The potential of Blepharidium guatemalense for nickel agromining in Mexico and Central America

Dulce Montserrat Navarrete Gutiérrez*, Philip Nti Nkrumah, Antony van der Ent, Joseph Pollard, Alan J.M. Baker, Francisco Navarrete Torralba, Marie Noëlle Pons, Jesús Axayacatl Cuevas Sánchez, Teodoro Gómez Hernández, Guillaume Echevarria

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to assess the potential of the woody nickel hyperaccumulator species Blepharidium guatemalense (Standl.) Standl. for agromining in southeastern Mexico. Pot trials consisting of nickel dosing (0, 20, 50, 100, and 250 mg Ni kg−1), and synthetic and organic fertilization were conducted. Field trials were also undertaken with different harvesting regimes of B. guatemalense. Foliar nickel concentrations increased significantly with rising nickel additions, with a 300-fold increase at 250 mg Ni kg−1 treatment relative to the control. Synthetic fertilization strongly increased nickel uptake without any change in plant growth or biomass, whereas organic fertilization enhanced plant shoot biomass with a negligible effect on foliar nickel concentrations. A 5-year-old stand which was subsequently harvested twice per year produced the maximum nickel yield tree−1yr−1, with an estimated total nickel yield of 142 kg ha−1yr−1. Blepharidium guatemalense is a prime candidate for nickel agromining on account of its high foliar Ni concentrations, high bioconcentration (180) and translocation factors (3.3), fast growth rate and high shoot biomass production. Future studies are needed to test the outcomes of the pot trials in the field. Extensive geochemical studies are needed to identify potential viable agromining locations. Novelty Statement Our research team is a pioneer in the discovery of metal hyperaccumulator plants in Mesoamerica with at least 13 species discovered in the last 2 years. This study is the first to assess the potential of nickel agromining (phytomining) in Mexico (and in all the American continent), using one of the strongest nickel hyperaccumulators reported so far. The promising results of this study are the basis for optimal agricultural management of Blepharidium guatemalense.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1157-1168
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Phytoremediation
Issue number11
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Agronomy
  • fertilization
  • hyperaccumulation
  • neotropics
  • Ni yield
  • phytomining

Cite this