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YPIE Scientist: Asiyah Abbas

Updated: May 30, 2023

Research: Impact of Soil pH on Area of Lead Uptake in Brassica Rapa (Fastgrow)

Awards: Participant in Westlake Science Fair (2021)

Research Location: At Home

Abstract: Lead is an incredibly toxic heavy metal that negatively impairs the growth and development of both humans and plants. It can be taken up by humans when we eat plants contaminated by lead. Previous studies have found that when soil pH increases, lead is more readily taken up by a plant’s vascular system. To determine whether the pH impacted where in the plant lead was taken up, Wisconsin Fastgrow plants were grown at three different pHs- 5, 7, 8.5- both with and without lead for about 45 days. Four plants were grown at each condition. Aluminum sulfate and sodium bicarbonate were used to obtain the required pHs. Sodium rhodizonate was used to indicate the presence of lead in three different plant tissues. Lead appeared to have little effect on the plant's health despite being found in plant tissue. Acid rain is still a problem in Europe and North America, so this research could have important implications in how to prevent valuable plants from taking up more lead due to soils becoming more acidic.

About this Scientist:

Asiyah is a senior at Saunders Trades and Technical who will be attending Vassar College in the fall, majoring in Psychology. An avid gardener, she was curious as to the effects of soil pH on where in a plant lead was taken up. As a future behavioral scientist, she hopes to develop a deeper understanding of why we behave the way that we do.

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