Foto en Jundiz

Saving our poplar trees

Last year´s drought was too extreme for some of the poplar trees we planted in Jundiz-Ariñez (Álava, northern Spain) as part of our PhytoSUDOE phytomanagement project. Half of them were inoculated with mycorrhizae, to facilitate their establishment. This week, after an in situ analysis of tree status, carried out by members of NEIKER, University of the Basque Country and the Centre for Environmental Studies (Vitoria-Gasteiz), we decided to plant some new poplars in both the degraded and contaminated plots.

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We are currently collaborating with the University of the Basque Country (Dr. Estilita Ruiz-Romera and Dr. Miren Martínez-Santos) in the assessment of the impact of anthropogenic contamination from untreated and treated residual and industrial wastewaters on the structure and function of bacterial communities present in river sediments. To this purpose, we are combining functional information (RT-qPCR) on denitrification genes (nirS, nirK, nosZ) with structural data obtained from 16S rRNA metabarcoding. We have recently identified some interesting interactions between the nitrogen (autotrophic and heterotrophic denitrification) and sulphur cycles, with consequences for the emission of greenhouse gases (i.e., N2O).

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We visited (February 1st, 2018) a Biocomposting Plant in Artajona (Navarra, Spain) where they prepare high quality (even, ecological) composts from different types of residues. We are currently most interested in the use of organic amendments in agriculture. In particular, we are investigating the links between these organic amendments and the possible dissemination of antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistant genes. Our aim is to select the best amendments for agricultural purposes, from the point of view of carbon sequestration and improvement of soil fertility and quality, while reducing the risks of ecosystem degradation through the introduction of (emerging) contaminants.

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El proyecto NATURADAPT, sobre “Estándares y directrices para la evaluación de efectividad y diseño de soluciones basadas en la naturaleza para la adaptación urbana al cambio climático con enfoque multiescalar”, sigue su curso. Nos hemos reunido en la sede de Tecnalia para terminar de definir la metodología de evaluación de la efectividad de las Soluciones Naturales en términos de reducción de temperatura, captación de escorrentía, secuestro de carbono y mejora de la biodiversidad. Asimismo, hemos abordado la definición de escenarios que permitirá aplicar la metodología diseñada a un caso de estudio piloto. El caso de estudio se ubica en el área Txomin Enea de Donostia-San Sebastián, actualmente en plena transformación urbanística.

Con el apoyo del Ministerio de Agricultura y Pesca, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente a través de la Fundación Biodiversidad:


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We are about to start a new experiment on rhizoremediation of contaminated soil. Brassica juncea plants will be grown, under controlled Phytotron conditions, in soil simultaneously contaminated with metals and organic compounds.  Different amendments (chicken manure, horse manure, etc.) will be used to both facilitate plant growth and stimulate the rate of contaminant degradation by rhizosphere microbial communities (i.e., bioremediation through biostimulation). In addition, bacterial strains isolated from the contaminated soil will be initially selected according to their (i) contaminant degradation potential and (ii) plant growth-promoting traits. A consortium of these strains will then be used for bioaugmentation purposes. Finally, apart from the reduction in the concentrations of the target contaminants, we will study the recovery of soil health, using a variety of physicochemical and microbial indicators of soil functioning, as a result of the application of the abovementioned rhizoremediation strategies.

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Drought in PHYTOSUDOE!

Last Monday (October 16th, 2017), we visited our phytomanagement experimental field site located in Júndiz (Álava, Spain) to collect insects from the pitfall traps (pitfall traps are devices, commonly used as a passive sampling technique to assess insect diversity, to trap insects that are active on the ground surface) installed there around the contaminated plots (S5b site). During this visit, we observed the considerable adverse effects of this summer´s drought on the growth of poplar trees planted there, together with alfalfa plants, as part of the phytomanagement strategies applied in this contaminated site. The more frequent and intense droughts and heat waves experienced in the last years in our region point out to the great importance of adapting phytomanagement guidelines to the current scenario of climate change.

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