Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Subcategory: Plant Research
Room: Exhibit Hall
Sierra Cloud - Fort Valley State University
Co-Author(s): Sneha Kc, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Zhaokai Dong, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Carla Ng, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.
Presently there is no standardized remediation technology implemented for the removal of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from water or soil and despite many “go green” campaigns there remains a gap in the sustainable use of green infrastructure in urban areas such as the city of Pittsburgh. This project serves two functions: to explore the use of green infrastructure in improving water quality and to investigate whether plants can remove PFA from the environment. When removing soil cores for sampling on the green roof and conservatory rain gardens plots were selected in a random fashion and distributed to have a quadrant in each general direction of the site (north, south, east, and west), rather than a specific location. Plant diversity surveys were completed using the same method at these sites. Plant diversity surveying at the University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning rain garden and an off campus bioswale was completed along transect lines based on the center of the site. Equilibrium dialysis is performed to observe binding interactions between specific proteins and PFAS in the laboratory. After 48 hours on the rocker the solutions were analyzed for an additional 24 hours, and the results were generated via a ligand free/ligand bound curve. The range for mostly free receptor to mostly bound receptor: 0.1KD < [L] < 10KD spans 9% to 91% bound f= [L]/KD + [L]. No significant binding between perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and Phospholipase D from Arachis hypogaea (peanut/PLD) was demonstrated. Field data collected displays green infrastructure applications in the support and expansion of biodiversity in ecosystems. D=0.2 for the Cathedral rain garden, McKinley Park rain garden, conservatory green roof, and southeast rain garden. The southwest rain garden's D=0.3 and the bioswale D=0.1. Simpson's Index of Diversity states: 1-D, where 0 represents infinite diversity and 1 no diversity. The diversity values of these sites are on the higher end of the spectrum. The complementary utilization of equilibrium dialysis to support the idea that the highly diverse plants in the green infrastructure installments could be used to bind PFAS and remediate soil should continue to be explored in hopes of mitigating health effects due to elevated PFAS levels found throughout the environment. Although this project did not yield significant binding between PLD and PFOS it is important to note this experiment entailed only a single run of equilibrium dialysis testing and cannot single-handedly invalidate the potential for plant utilization in PFAS remediation. As demonstrated by the soil sampling and biodiversity results, there can be a large variety of plants, with varying binding potentials, in a single site. There are many other plant proteins which can be sourced in a manner which is sustainable and economically sound that should be tested for PFAS binding potential. Members of the Ng lab have made plans to conduct experiments on the soil core samples collected to form a clearer picture of the soil profiles and what effects various rainwater systems present have on the soil. For example, some variation is expected due to the storm water collected at the bioswale versus soil profiles present in rain gardens. Equilibrium dialysis may also be run again with alterations in PLD concentrations. This experiment may also be conducted again with a different potential binding agent.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant EEC-2050944. Disclaimer: Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Faculty Advisor: Sarwin Dhir, Dhirs0@fvsu.edu
Role: The experiment performance and data collection involved in the equilibrium dialysis portion of this research, the plant biodiversity surveying, the poster presentation display, and contents.