Biogeochemical cycling of nickel and the fundamental mechanisms underlying hyperaccumulation. 

Mechanisms and cycling of nickel in New Caledonian hyperaccumulator plant species

Some trace elements, such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury, lead or selenium, are unnecessary to plants (no known physiological role). Others, like cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel and zinc have known physiological roles and are, therefore, essential to plant growth. Some plants have the unique capability to tolerate normally toxic concentrations of metals in their environment.

As a consequence of their exceptionality, these plants are able to largely influence their ecosystem. Adrian's work in New Caledonia consists of three complementary approaches which aim to: (i) elucidate the distribution and dynamics of Ni in live hyperaccumulator plants during germination (ii) decipher the biogeochemical recycling of nickel and nutrients in a natural rainforest stand of Pycnandra acuminata; (iii) elucidate the ecophysiology of nickel in Pycnandra acuminata and Hybanthus austrocaledonicus. 


Adrian firstly focused on copper and arsenic hyperaccumulation in the Philippines (Manila observatory) before orienting his research towards Ni phytomining at the United States Department of Agriculture (Beltsville, MD) in collaboration with Rufus Chaney. He started a PhD in April 2017 at the Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation under the supervision of Associate Professor Peter Erskine & Dr Antony van der Ent.

Adrian graduated with a MSc in Ecology from the Toulouse III University (France) in 2012 and with an international MSc in pollution management from the Lille Catholic University (France) in 2016.


In Australia, Adrian has relationships with researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, including the flagship Land and Water (Canberra). He also works with the School of Life and Environmental Sciences of the Deakin University (Melbourne). He has a range of international collaborative projects, including with the Institute de Recherche pour le Development (New Caledonia), the Laboratoire Sols et Environment of the University of Lorraine (France) and the Manchester Metropolitan University (United Kingdom).


The University of Queensland Centennial Scholarship; International Postgraduate Research Scholarship.


Associate Professor Peter Erskine & Dr Antony van der Ent & Guillaume Echevarria

Key Publications

Paul, Adrian LD, and Rufus L. Chaney. "Effect of soil amendments on Cd accumulation by spinach from a Cd-mineralized soil." Journal of environmental quality 46.4 (2017): 707-713.

Paul, Adrian LD, Peter D. Erskine, and Antony van der Ent. "Corrigendum to: Metallophytes on Zn-Pb mineralised soils and mining wastes in Broken Hill, NSW, Australia." Australian Journal of Botany 66.3 (2018): 286-286.

Paul, Adrian LD, and Rufus L.  Chaney. “Influence of subsoil and soil volume on the accumulation of nickel by Alyssum corsicum grown on a serpentine soil.” International Journal of Phytoremediation. Accepted (minor revisions)

Paul, Adrian LD, Antony van der Ent, and Peter D. Erskine. “Scandium biogeochemistry at the ultramafic Lucknow deposit, Queensland, Australia”. International Journal of Geochemical Exploration. 204 (2019) 74-82.