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Downers Grove South High School ESRP 2015

The Effect of Phosphorus on Nickel and Zinc Uptake in Red Lettuce Leaves


  • Students:
    • Austin Balinski
    • Brett Cohen
    • Thomas Matysik
    • Anne Rock
    • Yvonne Szustakiewicz
    • Rachele Wen
    • April Wendling
    • Eric Wynne
  • Teachers:
    • Theresa Quain
    • Michelle Sachtleben
  • Mentors:
    • Lydia Finney (Argonne National Laboratory, Advanced Photon Source)

Advanced Photon Source Sector 8: Microscopy

Varying levels of phosphorus were added to separate samples of lettuce plants. In addition to the phosphorus, a controlled amount of nickel and zinc in solution were added to all the samples. The metal concentrations and distribution in the leaves were analyzed using the APS. Since phosphorus is linked to root growth, it was expected that the phosphorus would increase the amount of metal found in the lettuce leaves.  Excess levels of Phosphorus have also proven to be a deterrent to metal uptake within a plant. Thus, the effects of adding phosphorus in relation to metal absorption would reach a peak. After this point, increasing the levels of phosphorus would no longer have a positive correlation with the metal absorption. By finding the range of peak metal absorption, it may be possible to determine the optimal amount of phosphorus. It was found that the plants that received the highest level of phosporous absorbed more Zn as well other trace metals in the soil.  The results for Ni were inconclusive.

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