She is called duckweed and is already known and consumed in Asian countries. The CritMET (Critical Metals for Enabling Technologies) research group at the Jacobs University of Bremen in Germany interested in this aquatic plant of which there are six different species.
The results of the study by Anna-Lena Zocher and the CritMET research group under the leadership of Professor Michael Bau were published in Science of the Total Environment. They discovered that aside from their nutrient-rich compositionduckweed it also stores rare earths to a particularly high degree.
“When the duckweed absorbs rare earths from water, trace elements follow the element manganese and not the element calcium, as they usually do. This indicates a very different absorption mechanism in the plant“, explains Anna-Lena Zocher, who worked on the subject as part of her doctoral thesis.
In fact, some plants and other terrestrial fungi are known to accumulate certain trace elements. We speak of “hyperaccumulation” in the most extreme cases. This is the case with duckweed! what makes one important ecological ally because it can absorb many pollutants (bacteriological contaminants, nitrogen, phosphates) by its roots.
“As rare-earth hyperaccumulators, duckweed could, for example, used near mine dumps to clean up contaminated mine water“, emphasizes Professor Bau.
Researchers see duckweed as a superfood! Not only for animals but also for human food. Because this aquatic plant -which we all have already seen in basins, ponds and other marshes – it is edible and contains seven times more protein than soy and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
In Thailand, it is nicknamed “water eggs”. In this country, as well as in Vietnam and Laos, it is the Mankai lentil that is consumed, in the form of a shake to regulate blood sugar. But duckweed also has other virtues, it is used for medicinal purposes. In India, she cleanses her eyes. and in China, it helps treat illnesses such as colds and measles.
The big ones industrial agri-food companies are interested more and more to this plant because being aquatic, it does not occupy valuable agricultural land, grow very rapidly and, on an equal surface, produces five times more starch than corn.