Microbial mediated tailing mineral weathering, plant-microbial colonisation in the tailings and their functions in soil formation & micro biogeochemical processes occur in plant-microbial-tailing mineral continuum

Tailings usually consists of finely ground mineral particles, soluble salts, and has an extreme pH and EC, and poor physical structures. Besides, it lacks organic matters and essential mineral nutrients, as well as functional microbes. Some tailings even has high concentrations of toxic metal(loid)s. All these physical and chemical drawbacks restrains the colonization of plants. Some soil microbes like mycorrhizal fungi and plant growth promoting bacteria (PGPB) are widely distributed in the environments with low nutrient availability and high salt (or drought) stress, and can help plants survival in those harsh environment and assist in key mineral nutrient acquisition by plants. Therefore, they have a great potential in plant colonization in various tailings.

Once plants colonise in tailings, the root activity can greatly drive mineral weathering and facilitate soil aggregation, contributing to soil formation from tailings. Songlin’s interests lie in the role of those beneficial microbes in plant survival in tailings, and their further functions towards soil aggregation, as well as the underlying mechanisms.

Dr Wu is interested in employing newly advanced technologies such as high resolution scanning/transmission electron microscopy (HR-SEM/TEM), X-ray microtomography (μ-CT), as well as synchrotron based micro X-ray absorption spectroscopy (μ-XAS), micro-focused X ray fluorescence (μ-XRF), scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM), and micro fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (μ-FTIR) etc in the study of the detailed biogeochemical processes in microbial-mineral and mineral-organic interface. The study aims to provide basis for development of technologies towards soil formation from tailings, and to give new insights into the fundamental study of soil development and ecological restoration in the tailing area.

Dr Wu graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental science (environmental chemistry direction) and PhD in ecology (soil remediation and ecological restoration). Songlin’s PhD work had well demonstrated the detailed biogeochemical processes of Cr in arbuscular mycorrhizal symbioses by employing various microspectroscopic technologies.


Dr Wu’s current research is closely collaborated with some tailing Ltds, such as Karara Mining Ltd in West Australia. He is working within a large ARC-Linkage project that aims to investigate soil formation in magnetite tailings to offset large proportions of soil volumes required to cover the tailings for native plant rehabilitation.


Dr Wu’s collaboration networks include academic colleagues from other schools and faculties of UQ (e.g., Schools of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Agricultural and Food Sciences, Civil Engineering, and Chemical Engineering), other Australian Universities (e.g., University of Western Australia), as well as Chinese Academy of Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Czech Academy of Sciences, Ljubljana University in Slovenia etc.


Current project (participation):

Eco-engineering soil from mine tailings for native plant rehabilitation, ARC Linkage (Australian Research Council, Kara Mining Ltd, Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority, 2016 - 2019);

Previous Projects (participation):
  1. Phytoremediation of contaminated soils using nanoparticles: Implications for rhizosphere (Czech Science foundation, 2016-2019);
  2. Interactions of arbuscular mycorrhiza with nano zero valent iron (Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, 2017-2019);
  3. Diversity and multifunction of AM fungi in typical fragile ecosystems in North China (Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2011-2014);
  4. Investigation and assessment of national soil ecology (Ministry of Environmental protection of China and Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2011-2014);
  5. The ecological role of AMF in plant resistance to drought stress and the underlying mechanisms (National Natural Science Foundation of China, 2013-2016);
  6. Arsenic uptake, metabolism and detoxification in plants associated with arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi (National Natural Science Foundation of China, 2011-2014);
  7. The molecular mechanisms of arsenic uptake and transformation by AMF (National Natural Science Foundation of China, 2014-2017).
  8. Municipal waste anaerobic fermentation biogas deposit and recycling and the safe use of biogas in practice (National key Technology R&D Program, 2012-2015).