Biotech Updates

Researchers Test Bioenergy Crops to Reclaim Mining Lands

June 9, 2022

Researchers at WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design will study the resiliency of miscanthus, a bioenergy crop that grows well on reclaimed mine land. Photo by Jenni Kane

Researchers from West Virginia University (WVU) are working to better understand the impact of climate change on a bioenergy crop that flourishes on reclaimed mining lands. Ember Morrissey, associate professor of environmental microbiology at WVU is examining the symbiotic relationship between microbes and the perennial grass Miscanthus x giganteus.

Jeff Skousen, professor of soil science, helped Morrissey establish miscanthus stands on marginal soil for research, with the goal of determining if fertilization will weaken the relationship between the plant and its microbes. They are also working to determine the ability of miscanthus to regenerate the damaged soils of Appalachia, which earlier studies demonstrated is possible. Production on marginal land can help improve soil health and isolate soil carbon, restoring the land and mitigating climate change.

“We're a little unique that we have these mined lands,” Skousen said. “We can utilize these lands that aren't being used now and put carbon back into them. The better we can have plants grow and take CO2 from the air and put it into the ground, the better outcome we can have with climate change.”

For more details, read the news article in WVU Today.

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