Recent Findings on the Phytoremediation of Soils Contaminated with Environmentally Toxic Heavy Metals and Metalloids Such as Zinc, Cadmium, Lead, and Arsenic

  • I. Alkorta
  • J. Hernández-Allica
  • J.M. Becerril
  • I. Amezaga
  • I. Albizu
  • C. Garbisu


Due to their immutable nature, metals are a group of pollutants of much concern. As a result of human activities such as mining and smelting of metalliferous ores, electroplating, gas exhaust, energy and fuel production, fertilizer and pesticide application, etc., metal pollution has become one of the most serious environmental problems today. Phytoremediation, an emerging cost-effective, non-intrusive, and aesthetically pleasing technology, that uses the remarkable ability of plants to concentrate elements and compounds from the environment and to metabolize various molecules in their tissues, appears very promising for the removal of pollutants from the environment. Within this field of phytoremediation, the utilization of plants to transport and concentrate metals from the soil into the harvestable parts of roots and above-ground shoots, i.e., phytoextraction, may be, at present, approaching commercialization. Improvement of the capacity of plants to tolerate and accumulate metals by genetic engineering should open up new possibilities for phytoremediation. The lack of understanding pertaining to metal uptake and translocation mechanisms, enhancement amendments, and external effects of phytoremediation is hindering its full scale application. Due to its great potential as a viable alternative to traditional contaminated land remediation methods, phytoremediation is currently an exciting area of active research.

metalloids metals phytochelatins phytoextraction phytoremediation transgenic plants 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. Alkorta
    • 1
  • J. Hernández-Allica
    • 2
  • J.M. Becerril
    • 3
  • I. Amezaga
    • 3
  • I. Albizu
    • 2
  • C. Garbisu
    • 2
  1. 1.Unidad de BiofísicaCentro Mixto UPV/EHUSpain
  2. 2.NEIKERBasque Institute of Agricultural Research and DevelopmentSpain
  3. 3.Department of Plant Biology and EcologyUniversity of the Basque CountrySpain

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