Research Interests

I am a plant stress physiologist. My primary interest is investigating the influence of selected environmental stresses on plants, and the role of antioxidant in combating plant stress. Throughout my career, I have involved many graduate and undergraduate students in my research projects. I have been studying a wide range of environmental stresses influencing selected aquatic and terrestrial plants. My recent interest has been focused on Phytoremediation. The idea of using plants to clean up the environment cannot be traced to a specific time in the history of science. However, the increase in the human population and the accelerated negative impact on the environment, makes Phytoremediation one of the prime solutions to several contamination problems in many areas. In selecting plants for Phytoremediation, relative plant tolerance to the contaminants and growth rates are the major barometers to be considered. Among the plants that I have investigated, I found that Kudzu ( Pueraria lobata) has promising potential to remediate heavy metals.
Kudzu can grow over 60 feet per year. It is a leguminous, weedy vine with pubescent stems, trifoliate leaves, and a perennial deep root system that is commonly found in the southeastern United States. Kudzu has extensive root biomass that provides high potential of exploiting deeper sources of water. Moreover, kudzu can control soil erosion and enhance soil fertility through nitrogen fixation. Kudzu has adaptive capabilities to deal with adverse condition such as eroded soil with low fertility, low pH, and poor water holding capacity. These characteristics of kudzu make it an ideal candidate to be evaluated for Phytoremediation. In the aquatic habitat, Salvinia ( Salvinia minima) is relatively equivalent to Kudzu in its growth, with a high tolerance to various contaminants. The genus Salvinia (Salviniaceae) is comprised of one genus and 10 known species. Salvinia minima Baker is a small, free-floating freshwater fern found in tropical and temperate regions of the world in areas such as North, South, and Central America, the West Indies, and Central America.

This plant can be found floating near the edges of slow moving streams and in nutrient enriched ponds commonly referred to as water spangles and floating fern. We found out through many research investigations that salvinia has the ability to withstand aluminum (Al) concentrations of 20 mg l-1 through the manipulation of the media pH from 3.9 to near 7 within 24 hours.  In addition, salvinia showed considerable ability to accumulate Cu (3.0 mg l-1), and 2 mg l-1 Cr (VI). Salvinia has the potential to double its population in approximately 3.5 days making it a suitable candidate for phytoremediation. In addition to Phytoremediation, I have developed strong interests in investigating the role ant- oxidation in stress physiology.