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Professor Margaret Burchett

Biography

Dr Margaret Burchett is a plant scientist with special expertise in plant environmental toxicology and management, and the use of plants to reduce and ameliorate pollution in soil, sediments, or air. She is now an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Science and chief investigator in several research projects.
Margaret is a former Head of School of life sciences, UTS, and Co Director of the Centre for Ecotoxicology, a joint venture of UTS and NSW EPA. She was founding President of the Australasian Society for Ecotoxicology (ASE). For four years she was a member of the International Environmental Panel for Oktedi mining, PNG.
Dr Burchett is also a former university representative member of the NSW Contaminated Site Auditors’ Accreditation Panel and is a co-convenor of the School of the Environment Contaminated Site Short Course program.

Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Science
 
Can supervise: Yes

Chapters

Yunusa, I.A., Veeragathipillai, M., Burchett, M., Eamus, D. & Skilbeck, G. 2007, 'Utilisation of coal combustion products in agriculture' in Gurba, L., Heidrich, C. & Ward, C. (eds), Coal Combustion Products Handbook, Cooperative Research Centre for Coal in Sustainable Development, Australia, pp. 374-409.
Burchett, M., Mousine, R. & Tarran, J. 2002, 'Phytomonitoring for urban environmental management' in Omasa, K., Saji, H., Youssefian, S. & Kondo, N. (eds), Air Pollution and Plant Biotechnology: Propects for Phytomonitoring and Phytoremediation, Springer-Verlag, Tokyo, pp. 61-91.

Conferences

Yunusa, I.A., Burchett, M., Veeragathipillai, M. & de Saint-Simon, X. 2007, 'Germination and early growth of crop and pasture species on media amended with two contrasting types of coal fly-ashes', World of Coal ash; Science Applications and sustainability, University oF Kentucky, centre for Applied Energy Research and the American Coal Ash Association, USA, pp. 1-11.
Yunusa, I.A., Veeragathipillai, M., Burchett, M., Skilbeck, G. & Eamus, D. 2007, 'Australian fly-ashes as an agronomic resource: progress and new opportunities'.
Tarran, J., Torpy, F. & Burchett, M. 2007, 'Use of living pot-plants to cleanse indoor air - Research review', IAQVEC 2007 Proceedings - 6th International Conference on Indoor Air Quality, Ventilation and Energy Conservation in Buildings: Sustainable Built Environment, pp. 249-256.
Urban indoor air quality (IAQ) is an international health issue, since city dwellers spend 90% of their time indoors. Research by a number of authors is reviewed here, demonstrating a range of capacities of indoor plants to improve IAQ and promote occupant wellbeing. Our laboratory studies, with nine 'indoor plant' species, and our 'field' studies in 60 offices, show that potted-plants can reliably reduce total volatile organic compound (TVOC) loads, a major class of indoor pollutants, by 75%, to below 100 ppb. They work equally well with or without air-conditioning, and in light or dark. An evaluation of these studies is presented, plus novel research showing that potted-plants can also remove indoor CO and, sometimes, CO 2. The evidence overall clearly shows that the potted-plant microcosm represents an innovative technology for solving indoor air pollution, which can otherwise cause a range of adverse health effects, including 'building-related illness'. This portable, flexible, attractive, low-cost technology can complement any engineering measures and can be used in any building. To ensure sustainability of the urban environment, satisfying the 'triple bottom line' of environmental, social and economic considerations, indoor plants can be expected to become standard technology for improving IAQ - a vital building installation element.
Yunusa, I.A., Eamus, D., De Silva, D.L., Murray, B., Burchett, M., Skilbeck, G. & Heidrich, C. 2005, 'Prospects for coal-ash in the management of Australian soils', World of Coal Ash Proceedings, Coal ash Association and the University of Kentucky's Centre for Applied Energy Research, Lexington, USA, p. CD ROM.

Journal articles

Torpy, F.R., Irga, P.J. & Burchett, M.D. 2014, 'Profiling indoor plants for the amelioration of high CO2 concentrations', Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 227-233.
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Research over the last three decades has shown that indoor plants can reduce most types of urban air pollutants, however there has been limited investigation of their capacity to mitigate elevated levels of CO2. This study profiled the CO2 removal potential of eight common indoor plant species, acclimatised to both indoor and glasshouse lighting levels, to develop baseline data to facilitate the development of indoor plant installations to improve indoor air quality by reducing excess CO2 concentrations. The results indicate that, with the appropriate choice of indoor plant species and a targeted increase in plant specific lighting, plantscape installations could be developed to remove a proportion of indoor CO2. Further horticultural research and development will be required to develop optimum systems for such installations, which could potentially reduce the load on ventilation systems. 2013 Elsevier GmbH.
Irga, P.J., Torpy, F.R. & Burchett, M.D. 2013, 'Can hydroculture be used to enhance the performance of indoor plants for the removal of air pollutants?', Atmospheric Environment, vol. 77, pp. 267-271.
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The indoor plant, Syngonium podophyllum, grown in both conventional potting mix and hydroculture, was investigated for its capacity to reduce two components of indoor air pollution; volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and CO2. It was found that, with a moderate increase in indoor light intensity, this species removed significant amounts of CO2 from test chambers, removing up to 61%2.2 of 1000ppmv over a 40min period. It was also found that the hydroculture growth medium facilitated increased CO2 removal over potting mix. The VOC removing potential of hydroculture plants was also demonstrated. Whilst the rate of VOC (benzene) removal was slightly lower for hydroculture-grown plants than those grown in potting mix, both removed 25ppmv from the test chambers within 7 days. The effect of benzene on the community level physiological profiles of rhizospheric bacteria was also assessed. There was less variability in the carbon substrate utilisation profile of the bacterial community from the rhizosphere of hydroculture plants compared to potting mix, however the species present encompassed at least those involved with VOC removal. Overall, we propose that plants grown in hydroculture can simultaneously deplete CO2 and VOCs, and thus may have potential for improving indoor air quality. 2013.
Torpy, F.R., Irga, P.J., Moldovan, D., Tarran, J. & Burchett, M.D. 2013, 'Characterization and Biostimulation of benzene biodegradation in the potting-mix of indoor plants', Journal of Applied Horticulture, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 10-15.
Over 900 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have been detected in indoor air, where they cause acute and chronic health problems to building occupants. Potted-plants can significantly reduce VOC levels in indoor air, the root-zone bacteria of the potting mix effecting most of the VOC biodegradation. In this study, a baseline community level physiological profile (CLPP) was established for the potting mix bacteria of the indoor plant species, Spathiphyllum wallisii 'Petite', using Biolog EcoPlates, to provide information on the functional abilities of this community. Changes in the CLPP resulting from benzene exposure were then determined and following the identification of the carbon sources associated with changes in the CLPP, biostimulant solutions were formulated and applied to fresh potted-plant specimens. Biostimulation of benzene removal was observed, with increases in removal rates of about 15%, providing proof-of-concept for the biostimulation of this process. The findings further elucidate the mechanisms of bacterial activity associated with removal of indoor airborne benzene, and could be applied to increase VOC biodegradation rates, augmenting the uses of indoor plants in improving building environmental quality.
Torpy, F.R., Irga, P.J., Brennan, J. & Burchett, M.D. 2013, 'Do indoor plants contribute to the aeromycota in city buildings?', Aerobiologia, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 321-331.
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Many studies have focused on the sources of fungal contamination in indoor spaces. Pathogenic fungi have been detected in the potting mix of indoor plants; however, it is unclear if plants in indoor work spaces make qualitative or quantitative contributions to the aeromycota within buildings. The current work represents a field study to determine, under realistic office conditions, whether indoor plants make a contribution to the airborne aeromycota. Fifty-five offices, within two buildings in Sydney's central business district, were studied over two seasonal periods: autumn and spring. We found that indoor plant presence made no significant difference to either indoor mould spore counts or their species composition. No seasonal differences occurred between autumn and spring samples. Indoor spore loads were significantly lower than outdoor levels, demonstrating the efficiency of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in the buildings sampled. Neither the number of plants nor the species of plant used had an influence on spore loads; however, variations of those two variables offer potential for further studies. We conclude that conservative numbers of indoor plants make no substantial contribution to building occupants exposure to fungi. 2012 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.
Sommerville, K., Pulkownik, A. & Burchett, M. 2012, 'Reproductive biology of a threatened Australian saltmarsh plant - Wilsonia backhousei', AQUATIC BOTANY, vol. 99, pp. 1-10.
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Yunusa, I.A.M., Loganathan, P., Nissanka, S.P., Manoharan, V., Burchett, M.D., Skilbeck, C.G. & Eamus, D. 2012, 'Application of Coal Fly Ash in Agriculture: A Strategic Perspective', CRITICAL REVIEWS IN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, vol. 42, no. 6, pp. 559-600.
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Manoharan, V., Yunusa, I.A.M., Loganathan, P., Lawrie, R., Skilbeck, C.G., Burchett, M.D., Murray, B.R. & Eamus, D. 2010, 'Assessments of Class F fly ashes for amelioration of soil acidity and their influence on growth and uptake of Mo and Se by canola', Fuel, vol. 89, no. 11, pp. 3498-3504.
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Coal fly ash can be used to ameliorate productivity constraints in agricultural soils, but their efficacy still remains highly variable. To ascertain the capacity of Class F fly ashes to modify pH of acidic soils, and their effects on the yield and uptake of molybdenum (Mo) and selenium (Se) by canola (Brassica napus L.), we applied two acidic and two alkaline Class F ashes at rates equivalent to 0, 12, 36, and 108 Mg/ha to the top layer (0-10 cm) of 100 cm long intact cores of acidic sandy clay and clay loam soils. Only the alkaline ash which had the highest calcium carbonate equivalent (2.43%) increased the pH of the top 10 cm of the sandy clay soil. However, this ash was also highly saline and when applied at ?36 Mg/ha it increased the electrical conductivity in the top soil layer. Increases in soil pH as a result of alkaline ash addition also elevated concentrations of Se in the plant shoot. The ashes with high concentrations of Mo and Se generally increased uptake of these elements in the plant shoot and/or seed. When these ashes were applied at 108 Mg/ha they increased the concentrations of these elements in the treated topsoil. 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Yunusa, I.A.M., Burchett, M.D., Manoharan, V., DeSilva, D.L., Eamus, D. & Skilbeck, C.G. 2009, 'Photosynthetic pigment concentrations, gas exchange and vegetative growth for selected monocots and dicots treated with two contrasting coal fly ashes', Journal of Environmental Quality, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 1466-1472.
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There is uncertainty as to the rates of coal fly ash needed for optimum physiological processes and growth. In the current study we tested the hypothesis that photosynthetic pigments concentrations and CO2 assimilation (A) are more sensitive than dry weights in plants grown on media amended with coal fly ash. We applied the Terrestrial Plant Growth Test (Guideline 208) protocols of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to monocots [barley (Hordeum vulgare) and ryegrass (Secale cereale)] and dicots [canola (Brasica napus), radish (Raphanus sativus), field peas (Pisum sativum), and lucerne (Medicago sativa)] on media amended with fly ashes derived from semi-bituminous (gray ash) or lignite (red ash) coals at rates of 0, 2.5, 5.0, 10, or 20 Mg ha-1. The red ash had higher elemental concentrations and salinity than the gray ash. Fly ash addition had no significant effect on germination by any of the six species. At moderate rates (? 10 Mg ha-1) both ashes increased (p < 0.05) growth rates and concentrations of chlorophylls a and b, but reduced carotenoid concentrations. Addition of either ash increased A in radish and transpiration in barley. Growth rates and final dry weights were reduced for all of the six test species when addition rates exceeded 10 Mg ha-1 for gray ash and 5 Mg ha -1 for red ash. We concluded that plant dry weights, rather than pigment concentrations and/or instantaneous rates of photosynthesis, are more consistent for assessing subsequent growth in plants supplied with fly ash. Copyright 2009 by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. All rights reserved.
Muir, M.A., Yunusa, I.A.M., Burchett, M.D., Lawrie, R., Chan, K.Y. & Manoharan, V. 2007, 'Short-term responses of two contrasting species of earthworms in an agricultural soil amended with coal fly-ash', Soil Biology and Biochemistry, vol. 39, no. 5, pp. 987-992.
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With the renewed interest in the use of coal fly-ash for amendment of agricultural soils in Australia, we assessed how earthworms, as indicators of soil health, responded to this ameliorant. We assessed survival, weight, burrowing and elemental concentrations for earthworms of a native unnamed Megascolecid species and of exotic Aporrectodea trapezoides in intact soil cores treated with an alkaline fly-ash at rates equivalent to 0, 5 and 25 t/ha over 6 weeks. Fly-ash did not affect survival, growth, number of burrows created or phosphorus solubilisation. Transfer of the earthworms to the new environment having vastly different pH from where they were collected, and possibly overcrowding, caused mortality in the soil cores for all treatments. A. trapezoides that had smaller individuals suffered mortality of 12% compared with 23% for the larger earthworms of Megascolecids. Earthworms of Megascolecids each increased their weight by 0.24g (25% of their original weight) while those of A. trapezoides lost 0.18g each (21% of their original weight). The difference in growth between the two earthworms was associated with grazing habit and probably with the large difference in the pH between source soil and that of the core soil. Megascolecids appeared to minimize grazing on ash-tainted soil and so ingested less Zn, which was more abundant in the fly-ash than in the soil, compared with A. trapezoides that had elevated concentration of this metal. Extractable P in the soil was increased with both species of earthworms, more so with the exotic species that solubilized 11% more P than the native Megascolecids. The benign influence of fly-ash on survival and growth of worms was associated with the pH of soil remaining unchanged during the six weeks of incubation. 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Yunusa, I.A.M., Eamus, D., DeSilva, D.L., Murray, B.R., Burchett, M.D., Skilbeck, G.C. & Heidrich, C. 2006, 'Fly-ash: An exploitable resource for management of Australian agricultural soils', Fuel, vol. 85, no. 16 SPEC. ISS., pp. 2337-2344.
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Agricultural soils in Australia have inherent limitations of structural and nutritional nature that pose major constraints to crop productivity. These soils are still productive due to intensive management that involves routine treatments with lime and gypsum at significant costs both to the farmer and the environment. Production costs associated with these inputs average about 30% of the total cost of soil treatment. Furthermore, reserves of gypsum are under pressure. There is therefore an opportunity for the more than 13 million tonnes of coal combustion products (CCPs) produced annually by coal-fired power stations to be utilised in the management of agricultural soils. At present, about 70% of the ash is emplaced within landfills. In this paper we briefly describe the main constraints of major agricultural soils that could be ameliorated with fly-ash. We used a model to estimate that application of fine (<20 ?m) fly-ash to the top 0.15 m coarse textured (sandy) soil would reduce hydraulic conductivity by 25% and so improve water-holding capacity. The same treatment of fine textured clayey soil with coarse (>20 ?m) fly-ash would increase conductivity by up to 20%. We cite examples of studies that have shown beneficial use of coal-ash for crop production, including our ongoing glasshouse study in which fly-ash was found to increase early growth vigour and seed yield by 20% for canola (Brassica napus). There are several issues, including costs and regulation, and knowledge-gaps that need to be addressed before adoption of CCP for routine soil management. 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Wood, R.A., Burchett, M.D., Alquezar, R., Orwell, R.L., Tarran, J. & Torpy, F. 2006, 'The potted-plant microcosm substantially reduces indoor air VOC pollution: I. Office field-study', Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, vol. 175, no. 1-4, pp. 163-180.
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Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are major contaminants of indoor air, with concentrations often several times higher than outdoors. They are recognized as causative agents of "building-related illness" or "sick-building syndrome". Our previous laboratory test-chamber studies have shown that the potted-plant/root-zone microorganism microcosm can eliminate high concentrations of air-borne VOCs within 24 hours, once the removal response has been induced by an initial dose. However, the effectiveness of the potted-plant microcosm in 'real-world' indoor spaces has never previously been tested experimentally. This paper reports the results of a field-study on the effects of potted-plant presence on total VOC (TVOC) levels, measured in 60 offices (12 per treatment), over two 5-9 week periods, using three planting regimes, with two 'international indoor-plant' species. Fourteen VOCs were identified in the office air. When TVOC loads in reference offices rose above 100 ppb, large reductions, of from 50 to 75% (to <100 ppb), were found in planted offices, under all planting regimes The results indicate that air-borne TVOC levels above a threshold of about 100 ppb stimulate the graded induction of an efficient metabolic VOC-removal mechanism in the microcosm. Follow-up laboratory dose-response experiments, reported in the following paper, confirm the graded induction response, over a wide range of VOC concentrations. The findings together demonstrate that potted-plants can provide an efficient, self-regulating, low-cost, sustainable, bioremediation system for indoor air pollution, which can effectively complement engineering measures to reduce indoor air pollution, and hence improve human wellbeing and productivity. Springer 2006.
Ahmed, A.K., JohnsoN, K.A., Burchett, M.D. & Kenny, B.J. 2006, 'The effects of heat, smoke, leaching, scarification, temperature and NaCl salinity on the germination of Solanum centrale (the Australian bush tomato)', SEED SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 33-45.
Wood, R., Burchett, M., Alquezar, R., Orwell, R.L., Tarran, J. & Torpy, F.R. 2006, 'The potted-plant microcosm substantially reduces indoor air VOC pollution: 1. Office field-study', Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, vol. 175, no. 1-4, pp. 163-180.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are major contaminants of indoor air, with concentrations often several times higher than outdoors. They are recognized as causative agents of "building-related illness" or "sick-building syndrome". Our previous laboratory test-chamber studies have shown that the potted-plant/root-zone microorganism microcosm can eliminate high concentrations of air-borne VOCs within 24 hours, once the removal response has been induced by an initial dose. However, the effectiveness of the potted-plant microcosm in 'real-world' indoor spaces has never previously been tested experimentally. This paper reports the results of a field-study on the effects of potted-plant presence on total VOC (TVOC) levels, measured in 60 offices (12 per treatment), over two 5-9 week periods, using three planting regimes, with two 'international indoor-plant' species. Fourteen VOCs were identified in the office air. When TVOC loads in reference offices rose above 100 ppb, large reductions, of from 50 to 75% (to <100 ppb), were found in planted offices, under all planting regimes The results indicate that air-borne TVOC levels above a threshold of about 100 ppb stimulate the graded induction of an efficient metabolic VOC-removal mechanism in the microcosm. Follow-up laboratory dose-response experiments, reported in the following paper, confirm the graded induction response, over a wide range of VOC concentrations. The findings together demonstrate that potted-plants can provide an efficient, self-regulating, low-cost, sustainable, bioremediation system for indoor air pollution, which can effectively complement engineering measures to reduce indoor air pollution, and hence improve human wellbeing and productivity.
Orwell, R.L., Wood, R.A., Burchett, M.D., Tarran, J. & Torpy, F. 2006, 'The potted-plant microcosm substantially reduces indoor air VOC pollution: II. Laboratory study', Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, vol. 177, no. 1-4, pp. 59-80.
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Indoor air-borne loads of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are usually significantly higher than those outdoors, and chronic exposures can cause health problems. Our previous laboratory studies have shown that the potted-plant microcosm, induced by an initial dose, can eliminate high air-borne VOC concentrations, the primary removal agents being potting-mix microorganisms, selected and maintained in the plant/root-zone microcosm. Our office field-study, reported in the preceding paper, showed that, when total VOC (TVOC) loads in reference offices (0 plants) rose above about 100 ppb, levels were generally reduced by up to 75% (to < 100 ppb) in offices with any one of three planting regimes. The results indicate the induction of the VOC removal mechanism at TVOC levels above a threshold of about 100 ppb. The aims of this laboratory dose-response study were to explore and analyse this response. Over from 5 to 9 days, doses of 0.2, 1.0, 10 and 100 ppm toluene and m-xylene were applied and replenished, singly and as mixtures, to potted-plants of the same two species used in the office study. The results confirmed the induction of the VOC removal response at the lowest test dosage, i.e in the middle of the TVOC range found in the offices, and showed that, with subsequent dosage increments, further stepwise induction occurred, with rate increases of several orders of magnitude. At each dosage, with induction, VOC concentrations could be reduced to below GC detection limits (< 20 ppb) within 24 h. A synergistic interaction was found with the binary mixtures, toluene accelerating m-xylene removal, at least at lower dosages. The results of these two studies together demonstrate that the potted-plant microcosm can provide an effective, self-regulating, sustainable bioremediation or phytoremediation system for VOC pollution in indoor air. 2006 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.
Melville, F., Pulkownik, A. & Burchett, M. 2005, 'Zonal and seasonal variation in the distribution and abundance of mangrove macroalgae in the Parramatta River, Australia', ESTUARINE COASTAL AND SHELF SCIENCE, vol. 64, no. 2-3, pp. 267-276.
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Melville, F., Burchett, M. & Pulkownik, A. 2004, 'Genetic variation among age-classes of the mangrove Avicennia marina in clean and contaminated sediments', MARINE POLLUTION BULLETIN, vol. 49, no. 9-10, pp. 695-703.
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Orwell, R.L., Wood, R.L., Tarran, J., Torpy, F. & Burchett, M.D. 2004, 'Removal of benzene by the indoor plant/substrate microcosm and implications for air quality', Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, vol. 157, no. 1-4, pp. 193-207.
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The quality of the indoor environment has become a major health consideration, since urban-dwellers spend 80-90% of their time indoors, where air pollution can be several times higher than outdoors. 'Indoor' potted-plants can remove air-borne contaminants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), over 300 of which have been identified in indoor air. In this study a comparison was made of rates of removal of benzene, as model VOC, by seven potted-plant species/varieties. In static test-chambers, high air-borne doses of benzene were removed within 24 h, once the response had been stimulated ('induced') by an initial dose. Removal rates per pot ranged from 12-27 ppm d -1 (40 to 88 mg m -3 d -1) (2.5 to 5 times the Australian maximum allowable occupational level). Rates were maintained in light or dark, and rose about linearly with increased dose. Rate comparisons were also made on other plant parameters. Micro-organisms of the potting mix rhizosphere were shown to be the main agents of removal. These studies are the first demonstration of soil microbial VOC degradation from the gaseous phase. With some species the plant also made a measurable contribution to removal rates. The results are consistent with known, mutually supportive plant/soil-micro-organism interactions, and developments in microbially-based 'biofilter reactors' for cleaning VOC-contaminated air. The findings demonstrate the capacity of the potted-plant microcosm to contribute to cleaner indoor air, and lay the foundation for the development of the plant/substrate system as a complementary biofiltration system.
Macfarlane, G.R., Pulkownik, A. & Burchett, M. 2003, 'Accumulation and distribution of heavy metals in the grey mangrove, Avicennia marina (Forsk.)Vierh.: biological indication potential', Environmental Pollution, vol. 123, no. 1, pp. 139-151.
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Melville, F. & Burchett, M. 2002, 'Genetic variation in Avicennia marina in three estuaries of Sydney (Australia) and implications for rehabilitation and management', MARINE POLLUTION BULLETIN, vol. 44, no. 6, pp. 469-479.
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Wood, R.A., Orwell, R.L., Tarran, J., Torpy, F. & Burchett, M. 2002, 'Potted-plant/growth media interactions and capacities for removal of volatiles from indoor air', Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology, vol. 77, no. 1, pp. 120-129.
Results are presented of an investigation into the capacity of the indoor potted-plant/growth medium microcosm to remove air-borne volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which contaminate the indoor environment, using three plant species, Howea forsteriana (Becc. (Kentia palm), Spathiphyllum wallisii Schott. 'Petite' (Peace Lily) and Dracaena deremensis Engl. 'Janet Craig'. The selected VOCs were benzene and n-hexane, both common contaminants of indoor air. The findings provide the first comprehensive demonstration of the ability of the potted-plant system to act as an integrated biofilter in removing these contaminants. Under the test conditions used, it was found that the microorganisms of the growth medium were the "rapid-response" agents of VOC removal, the role of the plants apparently being mainly in sustaining the root microorganisms. The use of potted-plants as a sustainable biofiltration system to help improve indoor air quality can now be confidently promoted. The results are a first step towards developing varieties of plants and associated microflora with enhanced air-cleaning capacities, while continuing to make an important contribution to the aesthetics and psychological comfort of the indoor environment.
Wood, R., Orwell, R.L., Tarran, J., Torpy, F.R. & Burchett, M. 2002, 'Potted-plant / growth media interactions and capacities for removal of volatiles from indoor air', Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology, vol. 77, no. 1, pp. 120-129.
Macfarlane, G.R. & Burchett, M. 2000, 'Cellular Distirbution of Copper, Lead and Zinc in the Grey Mangrove Avicennia marina', Aquatic Botany, vol. 68, no. 1, pp. 45-59.
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Ralph, P.J. & Burchett, M.D. 1998, 'Photosynthetic response of Halophila ovalis to heavy metal stress', Environmental Pollution, vol. 103, no. 1, pp. 91-101.
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This paper deals with the photosynthetic effects of a range of heavy metals on the seagrass Halophila ovalis. In this study, the photosynthetic response of laboratory-cultured H. ovalis to four heavy metals (Cu, Cd, Pb, Zn) was investigated. The results indicated clearly that chlorophyll a fluorescence was effective in monitoring the onset and development of stress, and occasional recovery, of H. ovalis when exposed to a wide range of heavy metals. Heavy metals in concentrations from 1 to 10 mg litre-1 produced several acute toxic responses. They had a variety of effects on the photosynthetic processes of this seagrass, with Cu and Zn having substantially greater effects than Pb and Cd. Quantum yield was the most sensitive measure of the photosynthetic processes affected by all heavy metals tested. With some exceptions, photosynthetic pigment content generally confirmed the chlorophyll a fluorescence responses. Copyright (C) 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd.
Ralph, P.J. & Burchett, M.D. 1998, 'Impact of petrochemicals on the photosynthesis of Halophila ovalis using chlorophyll fluorescence', Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 36, no. 6, pp. 429-436.
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Laboratory-cultured Halophila ovalis showed tolerance to petrochemical exposure up to 1% (w/v) solution of Bass Strait crude oil, an oil dispersant (Corexit 9527) and a mixture of crude oil and dispersant. Quantum yield, as measured by chlorophyll fluorescence, was the most sensitive measure of the photosynthetic processes affected by petrochemicals. The results indicated clearly that chlorophyll fluorescence was effective at monitoring the onset and development of stress and recovery of H. ovalis when exposed to crude oil, dispersant and a mixture of the two compounds. Photosynthetic pigment content generally confirmed the chlorophyll fluorescence response; however, several anomalies occurred.
Ralph, P.J. & Burchett, M.D. 1995, 'Photosynthetic responses of the seagrass Halophila ovalis (R. Br.) Hook. f. to high irradiance stress, using chlorophyll a fluorescence', Aquatic Botany, vol. 51, no. 1-2, pp. 55-66.
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Ralph, P.J., Burchett, M.D. & Pulkownik, A. 1992, 'Distribution of extractable carbohydrate reserves within the rhizome of the seagrass Posidonia australis Hook. f.', Aquatic Botany, vol. 42, no. 4, pp. 385-392.
Rhizomes of Posidonia australis Hook. f., collected from Botany Bay on the eastern coast of Australia, were analyzed for extractable carbohydrates. The concentration of extractable carbohydrate in the stelar tissue of the rhizome was significantly higher than that in the surrounding cortex. Reduced concentrations of extractable carbohydrate reserves were found in juvenile tissue and tissue adjacent to the apical meristem. Unexpanded internodes contained higher concentrations of extractable carbohydrate than expanded internodes. Tissue from equivalent positions along both the lateral and parental axis of a rhizome branch showed similar extractable carbohydrate levels and had similar patterns of internodal length. The pattern of carbohydrate storage within the rhizomatous tissue of P. australis is closely related to the age and health of the plant. 1992.

Reports

Yunusa, I.A., Veeragathipillai, M., Burchett, M., Eamus, D. & Skilbeck, G. Not applicable 2008, Utilisation of Coal Ash in Horticultural and Agricultural Ecosystems, pp. 1-111, Sydney, Australia.
Burchett, M., Wood, R., Orwell, R.L., Tarran, J., Torpy, F.R. & Alquezar, R. Horticulture Australia 2004, Potted-Plants Substantially Improve Office Air Quality, pp. 1-48, Sydney, Australia.
Wood, R., Burchett, M., Alquezar, R., Orwell, R.L., Tarran, J. & Torpy, F.R. The Nursery Papers, Nursery and Garden Industry Australia 2004, Using pot plants to clean indoor air, pp. 1-4, Sydney, Australia.
Polluted indoor air, air contaminated by Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), are a major cause of headaches, nausea, concentration loss and other `building-related illnesses. Previous laboratory research by the Plants and Environmental Quality Group at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) has shown that the `pot plant system (plants-and-potting-mix combination) can daily eliminate several times the Australian maximum exposure concentrations of the common VOCs benzene and n-hexane.
Tarran, J., Orwell, R.L., Burchett, M., Wood, R. & Torpy, F.R. Horticulture Australia 2002, Quantification of the Capacity of Indoor Plants to Remove Volatile Organic Compounds Under Flow-through Conditions, pp. 1-85, Sydney, Australia.
Burchett, M., Orwell, R.L., Tarran, J., Wood, R. & Torpy, F.R. 2000, Towards improving the capacity of indoor plants and potting mix components for indoor air pollution reduction, pp. 1-32.