Dr Peter Kopittke

Associate Professor - Soil Science

School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Faculty of Science
p.kopittke@uq.edu.au
+61 7 334 69149

Overview

Peter Kopittke is Associate Professor at The University of Queensland. As a Soil Scientist, he is actively involved in the management and conservation of soil; one of the basic elements which sustain life. Whilst soil takes hundreds or thousands of years to form, it can be destroyed in a matter of years if not managed correctly. The management and conservation of the soil-environment is arguably the biggest challenge we face as we move into the future. We need new ideas to solve the world’s problems.

Whilst his research spans the areas of agricultural production, water chemistry, and waste disposal, much of Dr Kopittke’s current research focuses on the toxicity of trace metals to plants. Indeed, aluminium (Al) toxicity is an important problem in acid soils which cover approximately 50% of Australia’s agricultural land, costing Australian agriculture $1.5 billion per year in foregone production. Dr Kopittke is also involved in projects aiming to overcome nutritional constraints in agricultural production systems, with Australia heavily affected by soil zinc deficiency (a global-scale issue which limits crop production and food quality).

Research Interests

  • Mechanisms of trace metal toxicity/tolerance
    Trace metals, such as Al, Cu, Hg, and Ni, are natural components of the environment, but are toxic at elevated concentrations. The importance of elevated trace metals in the environment has long been recognised, including in acid soils (Al and Mn toxicities) and contaminated soils (such as Cu, Ni, or Pb toxicities), although the underlying mechanisms by which they are toxic remain unclear.
  • Plant-ion interactions
    Plant-ion interactions underlie many problems currently facing Australia’s environmental and agricultural systems. My research aims to improve our understanding of plant-ion interactions, thereby providing the fundamental underpinnings required to advance research in several important disciplines, including: (i) managing acid soils, in which Al toxicity reduces agricultural yields, (ii) regulation and management of sites contaminated with trace metals at levels which are potentially toxic to plants, and (iii) improving nutrient use efficiency in order to reduce nutrient losses and water pollution. Conducted in solution culture, sand culture, and soil-based systems (in the laboratory, glasshouse, and field), my research has used concentrations of nutrients which mimic those found in soil solutions. This is in contrast to much previous published research which has utilized concentrated solutions where nutrients (particularly P) are often present at concentrations several orders of magnitude greater than those found under natural conditions, or even in highly-fertilized soils.
  • Land-disposal of wastes and assessment of risk
    The application of wastes to land is an increasingly popular method of waste disposal. However, the addition of the waste-material should not result in significant net change in the environment beyond acceptable limits. My research investigates the environmental sustainability of the land-disposal of a variety of wastes, with a particular emphasis on salinity and trace metals.

Qualifications

  • Graduate Certificate in Education, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Land Resource Science, The University of Queensland
  • PhD in Agricultural Science, The University of Queensland

Publications

  • Kopittke, Peter M., Moore, Katie L., Lombi, Enzo, Gianoncelli, Alessandra, Ferguson, Brett J., Blamey, F. Pax C., Menzies, Neal W., Nicholson, Timothy M., McKenna, Brigid A., Wang, Peng, Gresshoff, Peter M., Kourousias, George, Webb, Richard I., Green, Kathryn and Tollenaere, Alina (2015) Identification of the primary lesion of toxic aluminum in plant roots. Plant Physiology, 167 4: 1402-1411. doi:10.1104/pp.114.253229

  • Kopittke, Peter M., Menzies, Neal W., Wang, Peng, McKenna, Brigid A., Wehr, J. Bernhard, Lombi, Enzo, Kinraide, Thomas B. and Blamey, F. Pax C. (2014) The rhizotoxicity of metal cations is related to their strength of binding to hard ligands. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 33 2: 268-277. doi:10.1002/etc.2435

  • Kopittke, Peter M., Blamey, F. Pax C., Asher, Colin J. and Menzies, Neal W. (2010) Trace metal phytotoxicity in solution culture: A review. Journal of Experimental Botany, 61 4: 945-954. doi:10.1093/jxb/erp385

  • Menzies, Neal W., Donn, Michael J. and Kopittke, Peter M. (2007) Evaluation of extractants for estimation of the phytoavailable trace metals in soils. Environmental Pollution, 145 1: 121-130. doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2006.03.021

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Grants

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Supervision

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Publications

Featured Publications

Book

Book Chapter

  • Gei, Vidiro, Erskine, Peter D., Harris, Hugh H., Echevarria, Guillaume, Mesjasz-Przybylowicz, Jolanta, Barnabas, Alban D., Kopittke, Peter M. and Van der Ent, Antony (2018). Tools for the Discovery of Hyperaccumulator Plant Species and Understanding Their Ecophysiology. In Antony Van der Ent, Echevarria, Guillaume, Baker, Alan J. M. and Morel, Jean Louis (Ed.), Agromining: Farming for Metals (pp. 117-133) Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-61899-9_7

  • Blamey, F. Pax C., Kopittke, Peter M., Wehr, J. Bernhard and Menzies, Neal W. (2015). Aluminum. In Allen V. Barker and David J. Pilbeam (Ed.), Handbook of Plant Nutrition 2nd ed. (pp. 567-606) Boca Raton Florida, United States: CRC Press. doi:10.1201/b18458-21

  • Donner, Erica, de Jonge, Martin D., Kopittke, Peter M. and Lombi, Enzo (2013). Mapping element distributions in plant tissues using synchrotron X-ray fluorescence techniques. In Plant mineral nutrients: methods and protocols (pp. 143-159) New York, NY, United States: Humana Press. doi:10.1007/978-1-62703-152-3_9

  • Kopittke, Peter M., Lombi, Enzo, Menzies, Neal W. and Naidu, Ravi (2010). Principles of plant-based remediation of contaminated soils. In Bharat P. Singh (Ed.), Industrial crops and uses (pp. 446-469) Oxfordshire, U.K. ; Cambridge, MA., U.S.A.: CABI. doi:10.1079/9781845936167.0446

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Joint Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision