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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X


GINOCCHIO, ROSANNA  and  BAKER, ALAN J.M.. Metallophytes in Latin America: a remarkable biological and  genetic resource scarcely known and studied in the region. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2004, vol.77, n.1, pp.185-194. ISSN 0716-078X.

In Latin America, metallic ores are abundant and diverse. However, few metal-tolerant and metal hyperaccumulator plants have been reported in the region in comparison with other areas of the world. This may be largely explained by the scarcity of scientific studies of the native vegetation growing on natural mineralized or metal-contaminated areas and the unfrequent use of biogeochemical prospecting techniques by the local mining industry, rather than the proven absence of these plants. Latin America is, however, an area where metal-tolerant and hyperaccumulator plants (metallophytes) should be found, not only because of the wealth of ore deposits and associated metal polluted areas, but also due to its high and unique plant diversity. If plant formations developed over natural mineral outcrops are not evaluated before ore extraction, we can loose key metal tolerant species and/or genotypes (ecotypes) forever which may be useful for the mitigation of environmental problems generated by the mining industry itself (e.g., phytoextraction, phytostabilization, and phytomining)

Keywords : hyperaccumulators; metal-tolerant plants; biodiversity; metal ores; biogeochemistry.

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