Rhizosphere Adaptation of Pioneer Plant Species to Metal Mine Tailing-soil

Lachlan is researching how plant roots interact with magnetite mine tailing technosols, which are undergoing biogeochemical changes in response to ecological engineering inputs, through characterising root-mineral interactions and modification in the tailing soil and resultant nutrient (and other elements) uptake by the plants.

The research being undertaken by Lachlan will investigate the changes occurring in tailings technosols created through varying amounts of ecological engineering inputs and how these can be modified to create a suitable growth medium for pioneer plant species. 
The rhizosphere biogeochemistry of these plants species in the magnetite tailings-soil will then be investigated by characterising changes in root exudation, mineral forms, C/N mineralisation and microbial activities, in relation to plant growth and nutrient uptake. Both glasshouse and rhizome-chamber experiments will be conducted, which will be related to field tailings trials located at mine sites. It aims to identify tolerant pioneer plant species which have competent root mechanisms to catalyse biogeochemical changes in the rhizosphere and stimulate soil formation for long term sustainable mine tailings rehabilitation.

Lachlan is an experienced multi-disciplinary agricultural and environmental scientist with over five years’ industry experience. Graduating from UQ - Gatton in 2012 with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons I), Lachlan successfully won the 2012 Bell Medal Award for best Agricultural Thesis Project, coming 3rd in the National Australian Institute of Agricultural Science Competition for best agricultural thesis presentation and won the Ivor A. Gill Scholarship for the same project. Since graduating, professional roles have encompassed extensive field-based environmental and agricultural monitoring and sampling (specifically water, soil, pastures and dust), research and development (irrigation, pastures, brine, soil), data analysis and presentation, irrigation feasibility, project coordination, occupational health and safety, and liaising with both internal and third parties. These roles have ranged across the coal seam gas, environmental and agricultural industries in both the private and public sectors associated with mining, soils, irrigation, pastures, beef and dairy.


Industry experience has encompassed over 10 years of agricultural research, development, and extension, and 4 years in the coal seam gas industry working primarily as an environmental scientist.


Academic collaborations (other than SMI) include the Advanced Water Management Centre, Scool of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Scool of Agriculture and Food Science.