Civil Engineering ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 8-1-2023


Hazardous metals mobilized from natural deposits and mining legacy are environmental and human health concerns. The waters of our partner Native American communities affected by uranium and gold mining legacy exceed the EPA MCL of 10 µg/L arsenic (As). Bioremediation is a novel technology that uses native resources to remediate metals in the soil and groundwater. Plant-fungi symbiosis for bioremediation is widely studied, but the role of endophytic fungi in metal uptake is not well understood. The objectives of this study are to 1) determine As uptake by symbiotic endophyte Cadophora sp. and little bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium) in hydroponic experiments and 2) assess the role of endophytic fungi Fusarium oxysporum, Fusarium equiseti, and Darksidea sp. 1 in As uptake in aqueous batch reactors. The symbiotic grass and fungi are relevant to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Reservation, SD, and the batch reactor endophytes are isolates of blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilison) from the Jackpile Mine in Laguna Pueblo, NM. Hydroponic experiments showed an 80% decrease of As in solution detected by ICP-OES for all conditions tested within the first 48 hours. Batch reactors containing fungi, nutrients, and exposures to 4ppm As detected no As uptake in solution with ICP-OES analysis. This study discusses experimental design and microscopy analysis recommendations for future experiments of metal uptake by fungal endophytes. The results of this study provide insight into the bioremediation potential of plants and fungi to develop risk reduction methods for As and metals mixtures exposure relevant to mining-impacted tribal communities.


endophytic fungi, plant-fungi symbiosis, metal uptake, arsenic uptake, bioremediation, mining legacy

Document Type




Degree Name

Civil Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Civil Engineering

First Committee Member (Chair)

Anjali Mulchandani

Second Committee Member

Jose Cerrato

Third Committee Member

Eliane El Hayek

Fourth Committee Member

Jennifer Rudgers