Environmental pollution impact on the ionomes of natural populations of yeasts and plants for monitoring purposes

 Research is sponsored fully by the Bulgarian Science Fund, Grant number DVU 02/61

Understanding how organisms control their ionome (mineral nutrient and trace element composition) at cellular and genetic level could have serious impact on both plant and human health. Furthermore associating the genetic determinants that spring from natural ionomic variations with the environment where the organism grows and develops will provide serious insight into adaptation, specialization, element linking at molecular level and greater understanding of the relationships between different elements, and the responses of plants to environmental conditions.
Taraxacum is a large genus of flowering plants and the common name dandelion is given to members of the genus and it is appropriate for potential model ecological indicator organism because: dandelions have extremely wide ecological amplitude, growing practically everywhere; dandelions grow rapidly; we have established that a variety of pollutants can be sequestered in dandelion tissue.
Although Taraxacum officinale has been accepted and worldwide used as a biomonitor for metal pollution its ionome and the connection to the genome has not been studied in details in nature. Collecting comprehensive ionomics data-multi-element concentration profiles from a large number of Taraxacum isolates will further benefit the analysis and its use as an ;ecological indicator organism.

Therefore the aims of the present project are:

1. To investigate the ionome and genome of Taraxacum officinale; under natural conditions and to determine the impact that various kinds of environmental pollution have on the ionome and further on the genome.

2. To test the hypothesis that dandelions can be used as sensitive ecological indicators through comparative analyses of genetic markers because differences in population genetic structure can be detected between polluted versus nonpolluted populations.

A collaborative project with Faculty of Chemistry and pharmacy at Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" financed by the Bulgarian Science Fund, Grant Number DDVU 02/61.