Tona SANCHEZ-PALACIOS

PhD

Available to supervise Higher Degree by Research students

20102019
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Personal profile

Research interests

Throughout my research in plant molecular physiology and environmental chemistry I have had strong interest in understanding the mechanisms of long-distant transport and storage of metals and metalloids in plants. I am interested in applying this knowledge to improve current green technologies such as phytoremediation which involves the use of plants to improve the quality of ecosystems contaminated with metals and metalloids. I am also interested in applying this knowledge to investigate the formation of metallic nanoparticles in plants as a mechanism of tolerance, and the application of metal tolerant plants to develop new plant-based materials that can be used in the textile and construction industries. 

 

Current Honours Projects

Project 1: Characterisation of biogenic antimony nanoparticles in plants using single particle ICP-MS

Supervisors: Prof. William Maher, Assoc. Prof. Simon Foster and Dr. Tona Sanchez-Palacios

Christopher Andrew Johnston (Bachelor of Applied Science/Honours)

Antimony (Sb) is found in over 100 minerals and it is commonly found in nature at concentrations ranging from 0.2 µg g-1 to 0.5 µg g-1. By contrast, anthropogenic activities such mining can increase the levels of Sb to 400 µg g-1 in the mineral waste, which is toxic to most living organism including plants. Remediation of Sb-rich environments using plants has been of increasing interest in recent years. However, little is known about the mechanisms of Sb tolerance in plants, including the formation of Sb nanoparticles. The lack of understanding in the mechanisms of Sb tolerance in plants is in part due to the low recovery percentage (5-10%) of soluble-extractable Sb forms in plants.

Johnston C.A., S. Foster, W. Maher, J.T.Sánchez-Palacios (2017). Formation of Natural Antimony Nanoparticles from Living Plants: sp-ICP-MS Analysis of Natural and Lab-Formed Nanoparticles. In: 25th Royal Australian Chemical Institute Research and Development Annual Conference, Hobart, Australia, 4-6 Dec 2017.

 

Project 2: Phytoremediation potential of industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.)

 Supervisors: Assoc. Prof. Simon Foster, Assoc. Prof. Duanne White and Dr. Tona Sanchez-Palacios

Carly Annabell Beggs (Bachelor of Applied Science/Honours)

Phytoremediation is the ability of plants to accumulate heavy metals in its body parts. Industrial hemp is considered as a good candidate for phytoremediation as it has high metal tolerance and is a fast-growing plant species with a long tap root system. In recent years, research has been focused on investigating synergistic possibilities by using high value crops such as hemp for phytoremediation to restore heavy metal contaminated sites. It represents a simple, economic, environmentally friendly approach to cultivate high value industrial hemp varieties on non-arable land while ameliorating the toxic effects of heavy metals. The primary outcome of this study will be to nominate new elite varieties of industrial hemp based on their ability to tolerate heavy metals.

 

 

Student Projects Available

 

Formation of metalloid nanoparticles by plants

Plants have been shown to form nanoparticles of dissolved gold and silver. While it’s been shown that several species of plants can form metallic nanoparticles the underlying biochemical mechanisms are poorly understood. This project would involve isolating the main chemical components from several different plant species and determine which bioactive compounds aid in the formation of nanoparticles to try and establish the main biochemical routes. We are looking for motivated candidates to pursue PhD research with us in this exciting field. This research project will consist of a combination of laboratory, isolation and characterisation of bioactive compounds as well as some and greenhouse experiments. This project contributes to better understanding the natural formation of nanoparticles in the environment and aid in better understanding the environmental issues of nanoparticles in plants and their potential trophic transfer.

 

Using metal-tolerant hemp varieties for mine site rehabilitation

Metal tolerant plants have the ability to store and/or restrict the translocation of large amounts of metal(s) to above-ground tissues. Cannabis sativa L. (industrial hemp) is a fast-growing plant species with a long tap root system that can be used in the stabilisation of mineral waste as a result of mining. In recent years, research has been focused on investigating synergistic possibilities by using high-value crops such as hemp for rehabilitation of heavy metal contaminated sites. It represents a simple, economic, environmentally friendly approach to cultivating high-value industrial hemp varieties on non-arable land while ameliorating the toxic effects of heavy metal pollution. Currently, little is known about the toxicity threshold values of heavy metals for Cannabis sativa L. and therefore the potential of using industrial hemp in mine site rehabilitation. Furthermore, there is no information on the mechanisms of metal tolerance in Cannabis sativa L. We are looking for motivated candidates to pursue PhD research with us in this exciting field. This research project will consist of a combination of laboratory and greenhouse experiments, as well as fieldwork. This project contributes to better understanding the application of high-value crops such as industrial hemp to alleviate concerns associated with heavy metal toxicity due to mining and add value to the process of mine site rehabilitation.

 

Developing cellulosic fibres as biosorptive material of heavy metals in waterways

Plant cellulosic fibre offers a mean to improve the quality of waters contaminated with heavy metals. It has been shown that industrial hemp fibre can be used as an indicator of environmental pollution in aquatic ecosystems. However, little is known about how the metal composition in the cellulosic plant tissue can affect the fibre biosoprtive potential. Plant fibres that accumulate large amounts of metals may be utilised as sustainable biosorptive materials to improve the quality of water around urbanised areas. We are looking for motivated candidates to pursue PhD research with us in this exciting field. This research project will consist of a combination of laboratory and greenhouse experiments, as well as fieldwork. This project contributes to better understanding the application of natural fibres in the cleaning of water contaminated with heavy metals with the overall aim of resolving environmental issues of water contaminated with heavy metals in urban areas around Australia.

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Tona SANCHEZ-PALACIOS is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

zinc Agriculture & Biology
metabolic engineering Agriculture & Biology
Arsenic Chemical Compounds
iron Agriculture & Biology
bioavailability Agriculture & Biology
hemp Agriculture & Biology
biofortification Agriculture & Biology
Cannabis sativa Agriculture & Biology

Research Output 2010 2019

  • 2 Conference contribution
  • 1 Poster
  • 1 Article

Zinc biochemistry in Industrial Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.)

Beggs, C., SANCHEZ-PALACIOS, J. T. & FOSTER, S., 2019, p. 14-14. 1 p.

Research output: Contribution to conference (non-published works)Poster

Cannabis sativa
hemp
biochemistry
zinc
biodegradability

Performance of Eucalyptus species on capped arsenic-rich gold mine tailings in the Victorian Goldfields, Australia

Sanchez-Palacios, J. T., Doronila, A. I., Baker, A. J. M. & Woodrow, I. E., 8 Apr 2014, One Century of the Discovery of Arsenicosis in Latin America (1914-2014): As 2014 - Proceedings of the 5th International Congress on Arsenic in the Environment. Litter, M. I., Nicolli, H. B., Meichtry, M., Quici, N., Bundschuh, J., Bhattacharya, P. & Naidu, R. (eds.). 1 ed. London, UK: CRC Press/Balkema, p. 380-382 3 p. (Arsenic in the Environment - Proceedings).

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contribution

Gold mines
Tailings
Arsenic
Arsenicals
Gold

Arsenic response in roots of Eucalyptus spp.

Sanchez-Palacios, J. T., Callahan, D., Baker, A. J. M., Woodrow, I. E., Doronila, A. I., Wang, Y. D. & Collins, R. N., 6 Jul 2012, Understanding the Geological and Medical Interface of Arsenic, As 2012 - 4th International Congress: Arsenic in the Environment. Ng, J. C., Noller, B. N., Naidu, R., Bundschuh, J. & Bhattacharya, P. (eds.). 1st ed. Leiden, The Netherlands: CRC Press/Balkema, p. 332-334 3 p. (Arsenic in the Environment - Proceedings; no. AS 2012).

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contribution

Arsenic
arsenic
Phytochelatins
selective breeding
Tailings
18 Citations (Scopus)

Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF) and Biosolids Enhance the Growth of a Native Australian Grass on Sulphidic Gold Mine Tailings

Madejón, E., Doronila, A. I., Sanchez-Palacios, J. T., Madejón, P. & Baker, A. J. M., 2010, In : Restoration Ecology. 18, S1, p. 175-183 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

biosolids
gold mine
biosolid
tailings
gold

Activities 2018 2019

  • 2 Invited talk

The formation of plant-based antimony nanoparticles by inorganic Sb species

Tona SANCHEZ-PALACIOS (Speaker)
12 Apr 2019

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

Differential effects in the formation of plant-based antimony nanoparticles by inorganic Sb forms

Tona SANCHEZ-PALACIOS (Speaker), Simon FOSTER (Speaker)
2018 → …

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk