The contamination of soils by heavy metals such as mercury is a serious environmental problem worldwide. Traditional methods for decontaminating these soils are extremely expensive and disruptive to the natural environment. In collaboration with researchers in UGAís Genetics Department, Warnell scientists have created eastern cottonwood, yellow poplar and sweetgum trees that can grow on and detoxify dangerous levels of soil mercury. For example, in these images you see mercury-resistant and mercury-sensitive trees. Our first field test of mercury-resistant cottonwoods was planted on heavily contaminated soils in the spring of 2004. This site will be monitored over the next several years for reductions in soil mercury and maintenance of tree health.