University of Western Ontario - Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Biology

Supervisor

Dr. Gordon Southam/ Dr. Sheila Macfie

Abstract

Plants grown in metal-contaminated soils may take up and transfer metals to higher trophic levels of the food web. This project developed a new embedding technique to investigate the interaction among metals, bacteria and corn (Zea mays) roots in soils from Blackfrairs Community Garden and a home in Hamilton, using ICP-AES, Biolog EcoplatesTM, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and synchrotron analyses (SRA). The bacterial numbers were lower than those reported in uncontaminated soils. The concentrations of bioavailable metals varied among soils and increased with time. The bacterial community in bulk and rhizosphere soils used all of the carbon sources on EcoplatesTM; however, there were no differences in the bacterial activities representing bulk soils and the functional diversity in both treatments. The SEM and SRA detected grains containing high concentrations of metals. Copper, iron and manganese were accumulated in both rhizospheres. In plants from Blackfrairs, zinc was distributed throughout the root tissue.

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