Elucidating the Major Environmental Factors for the Enhancement of Selenium Volatilization from the Soil-Salicornia System

Anita Lee :

Mentor: Professor Norman Terry, Plant and Microbial Biology

Through a series of experiments conducted at a UC Berkeley laboratory greenhouse and at the Agroforestry site in Five Points, California, Anita will investigate the physical, chemical and biological factors that produce high rates of selenium volatilization from the soil-Salicornia system. An essential trace element that becomes toxic at high concentrations, selenium is currently a big concern in the San Joaquin Valley. The volatilization of selenium is a promising new technique for land reclamation. Whereas traditional phytoextraction methods sequester selenium in plant tissues, volatilization can potentially remove a significant amount of selenium from a contaminated system by harmlessly releasing it into the atmosphere. Anita's Environmental Science Senior Research Project will determine the major sites of volatilization, the role of microbes, and the optimal soil and environmental conditions necessary to enhance rates of volatilization from Salicornia, thus increasing the efficiency of this environmentally promising technology.