My work will follow on from my predecessor, Emily Leeder, who has recently completed a report focusing on iron intake from dust deposits on pumpkin leaves, which are a staple part of many African’s diets. This was following up from Michael Watts and Elliott Hamilton’s “The Future is Africa” project; where they visited both Zimbabwe and Zambia in January and November 2014.
Two billion people worldwide suffer from iron-deficiency, often due to consuming various types of iron which cannot be absorbed. In some developing countries, extrinsic iron can contribute to dietary iron from contaminants such as soil or dust. Emily’s project featured different types of applications of dust, as a paste to mimic wet conditions and also when dry and blown onto the leaves. The leaves were ground for 15 minutes and microwave digested before being analysed using the ICP-MS.
She concluded that even after washing thoroughly, a significant proportion of dust remained on the leaf, from which the iron content of the leaves coated in dust increased from the control (no dust applied) which had an iron concentration of 60 mg/kg. However, when a paste was used to replicate a soil splash the iron content rose significantly greater to almost 50 times the control. The underside of the leaves were found to be the most susceptible to absorbing the dust, due to the hook-like stomata present.
|Scanning Electron Microscope image showing dust adhered|
on the washed leaf surface.
I’m looking forward to making the most of my time here at BGS, hopefully utilising the facilities and experts to develop both my own scientific ability and also helping the team to the best of my ability.