Adaptation evolution and conservation of the copper flora of Katanga (Democratic republic of Congo)


The south of the Democratic Republic of Congo (Katanga) comprises some of the largest orebodies of Co and Cu in the world. Heavy-metal rich outcrops occur on ca. 70 “copper hills” forming the so-called “Katangan Copper Arc”. Concentrations of copper in the soil are often in excess of 10.000 mg kg-1. The flora of Katangan copper hills comprises at least 550 species. 40 species are eu-metallophytes or holoendemics i.e. species that only occur on Katangan copper-rich soils. All species have evolved physiological and biological adaptations to survive extremely high concentrations of Co and Cu in the soil. Some of them are hyperaccumulators of copper and/or cobalt. Such species represent an important biological patrimony which could be used to implement environmental technologies aimed at restoring vegetation on metal contaminated soils worldwide.  Compared to Ni and Zn, plant adaptation and evolution in Cu/Co-enriched soil has been little studied. The project is focused on those species that occur only on Cu/Co-rich soil or that are markedly more frequent and/or abundant on metal-rich soil compared to normal soil.  The objectives of the project are:  To characterise the response of fitness components (including life history traits) to increasing concentrations of metal (Cu, Co or both) in the soil;To examine the response of plant tissue concentrations to increasing concentrations of metal (Cu, Co or both) in the soilTo assess the extent and partitioning of genetic variation of metal tolerance and accumulationTo study population biology, demography and reproductive biology of narrow metal endemicsTo propose a conservation strategy for selected species. Priority species in the project are Crepidorhopalon perennis, C. tenuis (Scrophulariaceae), Haumaniastrum katangense, H. robertii (Lamiaceae).


heavy metal tolerance, metallophytes, copper, cobalt, hyperaccumulation, population biology, endemic species


Congo, Democratic Republic of {Geographical scope}


Name Role Amount
FRFC unknown
PIC unknown


Name Role Start End
Meerts, Pierre promotor 2005-08-01


Name Role Start End
Laboratory of Plant Ecology and Biogeochemistry member 2005-08-01
Herbarium and Library of African Botany member 2005-08-01


Reference Role
FAUCON M.-P., NGOY SHUTCHA M., & MEERTS P., 2007. Revisiting copper and cobalt concentrations in supposed hyperaccumulators from SC Africa: influence of washing and metal concentrations in soil. Plant and Soil 301: 29-36 author
FAUCON M.-P., COLINET G., & MAHY G., NGONGO LUHEMBWE M., VERBRUGGEN N. & MEERTS P., 2009. Soil influence on Cu and Co uptake and plant size in the cuprophytes Crepidorhopalon perennis and C. tenuis (Scrophulariaceae) in SC Africa. Plant Soil 317:201–212. author
FAUCON M.P., PARMENTIER I., COLINET G., MAHY G., NGONGO LUHEMBWE M., MEERTS P., in press. May rare metallophytes benefit from disturbed soils following mining activity? The case of Crepidorhopalon tenuis in Katanga (DR Congo). Restoration Ecology, in press. author

created:2011-12-14 14:18:59 UTC, source:web

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