Team zaaga’igan 2021

Mesocosm’s of manoomin at the UMD farm

We are team Zaaga’igan based out of Duluth, Minnesota. Our research will be on the effects of manoomin when exposed to sulfides in surface water and observing how it effects the porewater beneath the surface. This research will help us better understand how mining has effected the manoomin in the iron range area and other areas effected by excess sulfates.

Our mentor this summer is Leah Higgins, she is a senior chemical engineering student at the Univ. Of Minnesota Duluth. Her research interests include manoomin and how sulfides effect the growth of the plant. We are working with professor Nathan Johnson at the Univ. in Duluth on our project. Our tribal partners include the Fon Du Lac Dept. of Natural Resources.

Team Zaaga’igan


Nathan Johnson, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Civil Engineering, Swenson College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota, Duluth

Nancy Schuldt, Water Projects Coordinator, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.


Poster: Effects of Sulphur on Manoomin by Michelle Anderson and Jacqueline Holman

Click here to see Michelle’s Story Map

Click here to see Jackie’s Story Map

Abstract: Wild rice is being negatively impacted by mining sites in the Minnesota Iron Range that allow for higher amounts of sulfate to reduce to sulfide. The sulfide is toxic to the roots, decreases plant growth, and forms in the pore water -the water surrounding the plant roots that has a much lower oxygen concentration. This research helps to determine what levels of sulfur in water should not be exceeded based on plant numbers in mesocosms with no sulfate, 50 mg/L, 100 mg/L, 150 mg/L, and 300 mg/L of sulfate added and maintained. The path of sulfur transport in manoomin will provide an important reference to consider when making decisions on acceptable sulfur levels as well, since the amount of time the sediment sulfide remains and the full effects as it leaves needs to be determined. Interestingly, the plants appear able to make a full recovery, showing the resilience of manoomin.