Testing! Testing! Aiden and I have been working hard this past month, and have made leaps in our project since our last update. Our fungi have been growing well and have be moved to new plates, this time spiked with lead(II). They have been growing for a week now, and are showing great results! This test is to see if our species of fungi can take up heavy metals, a critical step for a bio-remediation project. We used three different cultures of fungi, with five different levels of lead(II): 0mM, 1mM, 2mM, 3mM, and 4mM. We have observed in one group a yellow color has appeared! Lead(II) gives off a yellow color when reacting to other chemicals, so if the fungi is absorbing the lead or not, it is doing something with it. Now our next step is to find out what is going on. We are planning to regrow the fungi on a broth, an easy way to test for lead in the fungi itself.
The new school year is in full swing, but the fun is just getting started. We started off to the races as Aiden and I visited the local Duke Energy coal plant. We were led on a tour of the facility by Laurie, the environmental adviser for Duke Energy. She led us to one of the coal ash pits that was layered with clay and was covered in tall grass. It was there where we found the bird’s nest fungi, which we will cover next week, and were able to collect a sample of coal ash. We can now scan the coal ash for heavy metals, and then add the ash to a soil mixture. Heavy metals can be highly toxic, and with the burning of coal, the level of toxicity is rising at an alarming rate. But with worms and fungi in hand, Aiden and I are prepared to stop heavy metals in soil!