Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 61, Issue 5–6, pp 405–412 | Cite as

Phytoremediation: an overview of metallic ion decontamination from soil

  • O. V. Singh
  • S. Labana
  • G. Pandey
  • R. Budhiraja
  • R. K. Jain


In recent years, phytoremediation has emerged as a promising ecoremediation technology, particularly for soil and water cleanup of large volumes of contaminated sites. The exploitation of plants to remediate soils contaminated with trace elements could provide a cheap and sustainable technology for bioremediation. Many modern tools and analytical devices have provided insight into the selection and optimization of the remediation process by plant species. This review describes certain factors for the phytoremediation of metal ion decontamination and various aspects of plant metabolism during metallic decontamination. Metal-hyperaccumulating plants, desirable for heavily polluted environments, can be developed by the introduction of novel traits into high biomass plants in a transgenic approach, which is a promising strategy for the development of effective phytoremediation technology. The genetic manipulation of a phytoremediator plant needs a number of optimization processes, including mobilization of trace elements/metal ions, their uptake into the root, stem and other viable parts of the plant and their detoxification and allocation within the plant. This upcoming science is expanding as technology continues to offer new, low-cost remediation options.


Heavy Metal Phytoremediation Yellow Poplar Cation Diffusion Facilitator Heavy Metal ATPase 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This is IMTECH communication number 014/2002.


  1. Andolfi L, Cannistraro S, Canters GW, Facci P, Ficca AG, Van Amsterdam IM, Verbeet MP (2002) A poplar plastocyanin mutant suitable for adsorption onto gold surface via disulfide bridge. Arch Biochem Biophys 399:81–88CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Arazi T, Sunkar R, Kaplan B, Fromm H (1999) A tobacco plasma membrane calmodulin-binding transporter confers Ni2+ tolerance and Pb2+ hypersensitivity in transgenic plants. Plant J 20:171–182CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Axelsen KB, Palmgren MG (2001) Inventory of the superfamily of P-type ion pumps in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol 126:696–706CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Baker AJM, Brooks RR (1989) Terrestrial higher plants which hyperaccumulate metallic elements—a review of their distribution, ecology and phytochemistry. Biorecovery 1:81–126Google Scholar
  5. Baudouin C, Charveron M, Tarrouse R, Gall Y (2002) Environmental pollutants and skin cancer. Cell Biol Toxicol 18:341–348PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Belouchi A, Kwan T, Gros P (1997) Cloning and characterization of the OsNramp family from Oryza sativa, a new family of membrane proteins possibly implicated in the transport of metal ions. Plant Mol Biol 33:1085–1092CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bizily SP, Rugh CL, Meagher RB (2000) Phytodetoxification of hazardous organomercurials by genetically engineered plants. Nat Biotechnol 18:213–217Google Scholar
  8. Burken JG, Shanks JV, Thompson PL (2000) Phytoremediation and plant metabolism of explosives and nitroaromatic compounds. In: Spain JC, Hughes JB, Knackmuss HJ (eds) Biodegradation of nitroaromatic compounds and explosives. Lewis, Washington, D.C., pp 239–275Google Scholar
  9. Chaney RL, Malik M, Li YM, Brown SL, Brewer EP, Angle JS, Baker AJM (1997) Phytoremediation of soil metals. Curr Opin Biotechnol 8:279–284Google Scholar
  10. Clemens S, Palmgren MG, Krämer U (2002) A long way ahead: understanding and engineering plant metal accumulation. Trends Plant Sci 7:309–315CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Cobbett C, Goldsbrough P (2002) Phytochelatins and metallothioneins: roles in heavy metal detoxification and homeostasis. Annu Rev Plant Physiol Plant Mol Biol 53:159–182CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Curie C, Panaviene Z, Loulergue C, Dellaporta SL, Briat JF, Walker EL (2001) Maize yellow stripe 1 encodes a membrane protein directly involved in Fe(III) uptake. Nature 409:346–349CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. De La Fuente JM, Ramirez-Rodriguez V, Cabrera-Ponce JL, Herrera-Estrella L (1997) Aluminum tolerance in transgenic plants by alteration of citrate synthesis. Science 276:1566–1568PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Ehlke S, Kirchner C (2002) Environmental processes affecting plant root uptake of radioactive trace elements and variability of transfer factor data: a review. J Environ Radioact 58:97–112CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Fiskesjo G (1988) The Allium test—an alternative in environment studies: the relative toxicity of metal ions. Mutat Res 197:243–260PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Gaymard F, Pilot G, Lacombe B, Bouchez D, Bruneau D, Boucherez J, Michaux-Ferriere N, Thibaud JB, Sentenac H (1998) Identification and disruption of a plant shaker-like outward channel involved in K+ release into the xylem sap. Cell 94:647–655PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Grant WF (1999) Higher plant assays for the detection of chromosomal aberrations and gene mutations—a brief historical background on their use for screening and monitoring environmental chemicals. Mutat Res 426:107–112CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Guerinot ML (2000) The ZIP family of metal transporters. Biochim Biophys Acta 1465:190–198CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Hall JL (2002) Cellular mechanisms for heavy metal detoxification and tolerance. J Exp Biol 53:1-11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Heaton ACP, Rugh CL, Wang NJ, Meagher RB (1998) Phytoremediation of mercury- and methylmercury polluted soils using genetically engineered plants. J Soil Contam 7:497–507Google Scholar
  21. Himelblau E, Mira H, Lin SJ, Culotta VC, Penarrubia L, Amasino RM (1998) Identification of a functional homolog of the yeast copper homeostasis gene ATX1 from Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol 117:1227–1234CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Hirschi KD, Zhen RG, Cunningham KW, Rea PA, Fink GR (1996) CAX1, an H+/Ca2+ antiporter from Arabidopsis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 93:8782–8786CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Hursthouse AS (2001) The relevance of speciation in the remediation of soils and sediments contaminated by metallic elements—an overview and examples from Central Scotland, UK. J Environ Monit 3:49–60CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Knasmuller S, Gottmann E, Steinkellner H, Fomin A, Pickl C, Paschke A, God R, Kundi M (1998) Detection of genotoxic effects of heavy metal contaminated soils with plant bioassays. Mutat Res 420:37–48PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Korshunova YO, Eide D, Clark WG, Guerinot ML, Pakrasi HB (1999) The IRT1 protein from Arabidopsis thaliana is a metal transporter with a broad substrate range. Plant Mol Biol 40:37–44PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Kovalchuk I, Kovalchuk O, Hohn B (2000) Genome-wide variation of the somatic mutation frequency in transgenic plants. EMBO J 19:4431–4438PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Krämer U, Chardonnens AN (2001) The use of transgenic plants in the bioremediation of soils contaminated with trace elements. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 55:661–672CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Krämer U, Cotter-Howells JD, Charnock JM, Baker AJM, Smith JAC (1996) Free histidine as a metal chelator in plants that accumulate nickel. Nature 379:635–638Google Scholar
  29. Lasat MM (2002) Phytoremediation of toxic metals: a review of biological mechanisms. J Environ Qual 31:109–120PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Lasat MM, Fuhrnmann M, Ebbs SD, Cornish JE, Kochian LV (1998) Phytoremediation of a radiocesium contaminated soil: evaluation of cesium-137. J Environ Qual 27:165–169Google Scholar
  31. Li L, He Z, Pandey, G, Tsuchiya T, Luan S (2002) Functional cloning and characterization of a plant efflux carrier for multidrug and heavy metal detoxification. J Biol Chem 277:5360–5368CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Macek T, Mackova M, Kas J (2000) Exploitation of plants for the removal of organics in environmental remediation. Biotechnol Adv 18:23–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Magnuson ML, Ketty CA, Kelty KC (2001) Trace metal loading on water-borne soil and dust particles characterized through the use of spilt-flow thin-cell fractionation. Anal Chem 73:3492–3496CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Mäser P, Thomine S, Schroeder JI, Ward JM, Hirschi K, Sze H, Talke IN, Amtmann A, Maathuis FJM, Sanders D, Harper JF, Tchieu J, Gribskov M, Persans MW, Salt DE, Kim SA, Guerinot ML (2001) Phylogenetic relationships within cation transporter families of Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol 126:1646–1667CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Meagher RB (2000) Phytoremediation of toxic elemental and organic pollutants. Curr Opin Plant Biol 3:153–162CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Nies DH (1999) Microbial heavy-metal resistance. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 51:730–750CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Pagnanelli F, Toro L, Veglio F (2002) Olive mill solid residues as heavy metal sorbent material: a preliminary study. Waste Manag 22:901–907CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Paulsen IT, Saier MH Jr (1997) A novel family of ubiquitous heavy metal ion transport proteins. J Membr Biol 156:99–103PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Pence NS, Larson PB, Ebbs SD, Lethan DLD, Lasat MM, Garvin DF, Eide D, Kochian LV (2000) The molecular physiology of heavy metal transport in the Zn/Cd hyperaccumulator Thlaspi caerulescens. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97:4956–4960PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Persans MW, Nieman K, Salt DE (2001) Functional activity and role of cation-efflux family members in Ni hyperaccumulation in Thlaspi goesingense. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98:9995–10000CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Petrangeli PM, Majone M, Rolle E (2001) Kaolinite sorption of Cd, Ni and Cu from landfill leachates: influence of leachate composition. Water Sci Technol 44:343–350PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Rea PA (1999) MRP subfamily of ABC transporters from plants and yeast. J Exp Bot 50:895–913Google Scholar
  43. Rugh CL, Wilde HD, Stack NM, Thompson DM, Summers AO, Meagher RB (1996) Mercuric ion reduction and resistance in transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants expressing a modified bacterial merA gene. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 93:3182–3187CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Rugh CL, Seueoff JF, Meagher RB, Merkle SA (1998) Development of transgenic yellow poplar for mercury phytoremediation. Nat Biotechnol 16:925–928PubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Salt DE, Krämer V (2000) Mechanism of metal hyperaccumulation in plants. In: Raskin I, Ensley BD (eds) Phytoremediation of toxic metals: using plants to clean up the environment. Wiley, New York, pp 231–246Google Scholar
  46. Samuelsen AI, Martin RC, Mok DWS, Machteld CM (1998) Expression of the yeast FRE genes in transgenic tobacco. Plant Physiol 118:51–58CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Schmoger ME, Oven M, Grill E (2000) Detoxification of arsenic by phytochelatins in plants. Plant Physiol 122:793–801PubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Shaul O, Hilgemann DW, De-Almeida-Engler J, Van Montagu M, Inz D, Galili G (1999) Cloning and characterization of a novel Mg2+/H+ exchanger. EMBO J 18:3973–3980CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Steinkellner H, Mun-Sik K, Helma C, Ecker S, Ma TH, Horak O, Kundi M, Knasmuller S (1998) Genotoxic effects of heavy metals: comparative investigation with plant bioassays. Environ Mol Mutagen 31:183–191CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Thomine S, Wang R, Ward JM, Crawford NM, Schroeder JI (2000) Cadmium and iron transport by members of a plant metal transporter family in Arabidopsis with homology to Nramp genes. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97:4991–4996PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Vatamaniuk OK, Bucher EA, Ward JT, Rea PA (2001) A new pathway for heavy metal detoxification in animals. Phytochelatin synthase is required for cadmium tolerance in Caenorhabditis elegans. J Biol Chem 276:20817–20820CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Whiting SN, Souza MP de, Terry N (2001) Rhizosphere bacteria mobilize Zn for hyperaccumulation by Thlaspi caerulescens. Environ Sci Technol 35:3144–3150CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Williams LE, Pittman JK, Hall JL (2000) Emerging mechanisms for heavy metal transport in plants. Biochim Biophys Acta 1465:104–126PubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Zaal BJ van der, Neuteboom LW, Pinas JE, Chardonnens AN, Schat H, Verkleij JA, Hooykaas PJ (1999) Overexpression of a novel Arabidopsis gene related to putative zinc-transporter genes from animals can lead to enhanced zinc resistance and accumulation. Plant Physiol 199:1047–1055CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • O. V. Singh
    • 1
  • S. Labana
    • 1
  • G. Pandey
    • 1
  • R. Budhiraja
    • 1
  • R. K. Jain
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Microbial TechnologyChandigarhIndia

Personalised recommendations