Transgenic Approaches to Enhance Phytoremediation of Heavy Metal-Polluted Soils

  • Pavel KotrbaEmail author
Part of the Soil Biology book series (SOILBIOL, volume 35)


Bioremediation using living plant species, referred to as phytoremediation, covers several different strategies, of which phytoremediation of metal-contaminated soils employs phytoextraction, rhizofiltration, phytostabilization, and phytovolatilization. Although a number of metal hyperaccumulating plant species have been identified, they have little significance in direct application in phytoextraction because of their slow growth, low biomass, and intense interaction with a specific habitat. Efforts are being directed to obtain better molecular insights into metallomics and physiology of hyperaccumulating plants, which highlights candidate genes suitable for phytoremediation. Transgenic approaches employed to promote phytoextraction of metals involved implementation of heterologous metal transporters, centrally important in metal uptake, compartmentalization and/or translocation to organs, improved production of intracellular metal-detoxifying ligands, and (over)production of eligible enzymes. Plants producing bacterial mercuric reductase and organomercurial lyase can convert toxic mercury to metallic Hg volatized from the leaf surface. The use of genetically modified plant symbionts is receiving attention only recently. Although substantial progress has been made, further efforts require interdisciplinary approach and more so, field trials are needed to assess the risk of genetic pollution and underlying economics. Here, we discuss the evidence supporting suitability and prospects of transgenic approaches in phytoremediation of heavy metal-contaminated soils.


Transgenic Plant Aboveground Tissue Metal Translocation Mercuric Reductase Vacuolar Sequestration 
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.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and MicrobiologyInstitute of Chemical Technology, PraguePragueCzech Republic

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