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A dandelion growing in the middle of a barren patch of oilsands tailings might unlock one way to help clean them up.

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon have found the dandelion was hosting a fungus that ate the residual chemicals in the tailings.

Further lab experiments have suggested that fungus helps a wide variety of plants sprout better in the tailings, which are leftover sand from oilsands processing.

Researcher Susan Kaminskyj says the fungus is able to penetrate deep into contaminated soil.

She says that makes it better for reclamation work than oil-eating bacteria, which stick closer to the surface.

Kaminskyj says the next step will be to try her fungus on an actual tailings site.


The Canadian Press

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