Review Article | Published:

Phytoremediation: A Novel Strategy for the Removal of Toxic Metals from the Environment Using Plants

Bio/Technologyvolume 13pages468474 (1995) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

Toxic metal pollution of waters and soils is a major environmental problem, and most conventional remediation approaches do not provide acceptable solutions. The use of specially selected and engineered metal-accumulating plants for environmental clean-up is an emerging technology called phytoremediation. Three subsets of this technology are applicable to toxic metal remediation: (1) Phytoextraction—the use of metal-accumulating plants to remove toxic metals from soil; (2) Rhizoflltration—the use of plant roots to remove toxic metals from polluted waters; and (3) Phytostabilization—the use of plants to eliminate the bioavailability of toxic metals hi soils. Biological mechanisms of toxic metal uptake, translocation and resistance as well as strategies for improving phytoremediation are also discussed.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Nriago, J.O. 1979. Global inventory of natural and anthropogenic emissions of trace metals to the atmosphere. Nature 279: 409–411.

  2. 2

    Settle, D.M. and Patterson, C.C. 1980. Lead in Albacore: Guide to lead pollution in Americans. Science 207: 1167–1176.

  3. 3

    Kabata-Pendias, A. and Pendias, H. 1989. Trace Elements In The Soil And Plants. CRC Press, Florida.

  4. 4

    Edgington, S.M. 1994. Environmental biotechnology. Bio/Technology 12: 1338–1342.

  5. 5

    Summers, A.O. 1992. The hard stuff: metals in bioremediation. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 3: 271–276.

  6. 6

    Baker, A.J.M. and Brooks, R.R. 1989. Terrestrial higher plants which hyper-accumulate metallic elements—A review of their distribution, ecology and phytochemistry. Biorecovery 1: 81–126.

  7. 7

    Raskin, I., Kumar, P.B.A.N., Dushenkov, S. and Salt, D.E. 1994. Bioconcentration of heavy metals by plants. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 5: 285–290.

  8. 8

    Ernst, W.H.O., Verkleij, J.A.C. and Schat, H. 1992. Metal tolerance in plants. Acta Bot. Neerl. 41: 229–248.

  9. 9

    Brooks, R.R., Morrison, R.S., Reeves, R.D., Dudley, T.R. and Akman, Y. 1979. Hyperaccumulation of nickel by Alyssum Linnaeus (Cruciferae). Proc. R. Soc. London. Ser. B. 203: 387–103.

  10. 10

    Brooks, R.R., Morrison, R.S., Reeves, R.D. and Malaisse, F. 1978. Copper and cobalt in African species of Aeolanthus Mart. (Plectranthinae, Labiatae). Plant and Soil 50: 503–507.

  11. 11

    Brooks, R.R., Trow, J.M., Veillon, J.M. and Jaffre, J.M. 1981. Studies on manganese accumulating Alyxia from New Caledonia. Taxon 30: 420–423.

  12. 12

    Reeves, R.D. and Brooks, R.R. 1983. Hyperaccumulation of lead and zinc by two metallophytes from mining areas in Central Europe. Environ. Pollut. Ser. A. 31: 277–285.

  13. 13

    Banuelos, G.S. and Meeks, D.W. 1990. Accumulation of selenium in plants grown on selenium-treated soil. J. Environ. Qual. 19: 772–777.

  14. 13a

    Timofeev-Resovsky, E.A., Agafonov, B.M. and Timofeev-Resovsky, N.V. 1962. Fate of radioisotopes in aquatic environments (In Russian). Proceedings of the Biological Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences 22: 49–67.

  15. 14

    Dierberg, F.E., DeBusk, T.A. and Goulet, N.A. Jr. 1987. Removal of copper and lead using a thin-film technique, p. 497–504. In: Aquatic Plants for Water Treatment and Resource Recovery. Reddy, K. B. and Smith, W. H. (Eds.). Magnolia Publishing Inc. FL.

  16. 15

    Jain, S.K., Vasudevan, P. and Jha, N.K. 1989. Removal of some heavy metals from polluted waters by aquatic plants: Studies on duckweed and water velvet. Biological Wastes 28: 115–126.

  17. 16

    Mo, S.C., Choi, D.S. and Robinson, J.W. 1989. Uptake of mercury from aqueous solutions by duckweed: The effect of pH, copper and humic acid. J. Env. Sci. Health A24: 135–146.

  18. 17

    Jackson, P.J., Torres, A.P., Delhaize, E., Pack, E. and Bolender, S.L. 1990. The removal of barium ions from solution using Datura innoxia suspension culture cells. J. Env. Quality 19: 644–648.

  19. 18

    Wildeman, T. and Cevaal, J.N. 1994. Constructed wetlands use natural processes to treat acid mine drainage. The Hazardous Waste Consultant July/August:1.24–1.28.

  20. 19

    Baker, A., Brooks, R. and Reeves, R.D. 1988. Growing for gold … and copper … and zinc. New Scientist 10: 44–48.

  21. 20

    Chaney, R.L. 1983. Plant uptake of inorganic waste, p. 50–76. In: Land Treatment of Hazardous Wastes. Parr, J. E., Marsh, P. B. and Kla, J. M. (Eds.). Noyes Data Corp., Park Ridge.

  22. 21

    Cunningham, S.D. and Berti, W.R. 1993. Remediation of contaminated soils with green plants: An overview. In Vitro. Cell. Dev. Biol. 29P: 207–212.

  23. 22

    Wenzel, W.W., Sattler, H. and Jockwer, F. 1993. Metal hyperaccumulator plants: a survey on species to be potentially used for soil remediation. Agronomy Abstracts p. 52.

  24. 23

    Banuelos, G.S., Cardon, G., Mackey, B., Ben-Asher, J., Wu, L., Beuselinck, P., Akohoue, S. and Zambrzuski, S. 1993. Plant and environment interactions, boron and selenium removal in boron-laden soils by four sprinkler irrigated plant species. J. Environ. Qual. 22: 786–792.

  25. 24

    Kumar, P.B.A.N., Dushenkov, V., Motto, H. and Raskin, I. 1995. Phytoextration—the use of plants to remove heavy metals from soils. Environ. Sci. Technol. 29: 1232–1238.

  26. 25

    Dushenkov, V., Kumar, P.B.A.N., Motto, H. and Raskin, I. 1995. Rhizofiltration—the use of plants to remove heavy metals from aqueous streams. Environ. Sci. Technol. 29: 1239–1245.

  27. 26

    Walton, B.T. and Anderson, T.A. 1992. Plant-microbe treatment systems for toxic waste. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 3: 267–270.

  28. 27

    Anderson, T.A., Guthrie, E.A. and Walton, B.T. 1993. Bioremediation. Environ. Sci. Technol. 27: 2630–2636.

  29. 28

    Baker, A.J.M., McGrath, S.P., Sidoli, C.M.D. and Reeves, R.D. 1994. The possibility of in situ heavy metal decontamination of polluted soils using crops of metal-accumulating plants. Resource, Conservation and Recycling 11: 41–49.

  30. 29

    Brown, S.L., Chaney, R.L., Angle, J.S. and Baker, A.J.M. 1994. Phytoremediation potential of Thlaspi caerulescens and bladder campion for zinc- and cadmium–contaminated soil. J. Environ. Qual. 23: 1151–1157.

  31. 30

    Brown, S.L., Chaney, R.L., Angle, J.S. and Baker, A.J.M. 1995. Zinc and cadmium uptake by hyperaccumulator Thlaspi caerulescens grown in nutrient solution. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 59: 125–133.

  32. 31

    Cataldo, D.A. and Wildung, R.E. 1978. Soil and plant factors influencing the accumulation of heavy metals by plants. Environmental and Health Perspectives 27: 149–159.

  33. 32

    Macaskie, L.E. 1991. The application of biotechnology to the treatment of wastes produced from the nuclear fuel cycle: Biodegradation and bioaccumulation as a means of treating radionuclide-containing streams. Critical Reviews in Biotechnolgy 11: 41–112.

  34. 33

    Smith, R.A.H. and Bradshaw, A.D. 1979. The use of metal tolerant plant populations for the reclamation of metalliferous wastes. Journal of Applied Ecology 16: 595–612.

  35. 34

    Losi, M.E., Amrhein, C. and Frankenberger, Jr. W.T. 1994. Bioremediation of chromate-contaminated groundwater by reduction and precipitation in surface soils. J. Environ. Qual. 23: 1141–1150.

  36. 35

    Ramos, L., Hernandez, L.M. and Gonzalez, J.M. 1994. Sequential fractiona-tion of copper, cadmium, and zinc in soils from or near Doñana National Park. J. Environ. Qual. 23: 50–57.

  37. 36

    Norvell, W.A. 1984. Comparison of chelating agents as extractants for metals in diverse soil materials. Soil Sci. Sec. Am. J. 48: 1285–1292.

  38. 37

    Harter, R.D. 1983. Effect of soil pH on adsorption of lead, copper, zinc, and nickel. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 47: 47–51.

  39. 38

    Marschner, H. 1986. Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.

  40. 39

    Uren, N.C. 1981. Chemical reduction of an insoluble higher oxide of manganese by plant roots. J. Plant Nutr. 4: 65–71.

  41. 40

    Blaylock, M.J. and James, B.R. 1994. Redox transformations and plant uptake of selenium resulting from root-soil interactions. Plant Soil 158: 1–12.

  42. 41

    Bartlett, R. and James, B. 1979. Behavior of chromium in soils, III. Oxidation. J. Environ. Qual. 8: 31–35.

  43. 42

    Singh, B.R. 1991. Selenium content of wheat as affected by selenate and selen-ite contained in Cl- or SO4-based NPK fertilizer. Fert. Res. 30: 1–7.

  44. 43

    Anderson, T.A. and Coats, J.R. 1994. Bioremediation through Rhizosphere Technology. ACS Symposium Series, Washington, DC.

  45. 44

    Crowley, D.E., Wang, Y.C., Reid, C.P.P. and Szaniszlo, P.J. 1991. Mechanisms of iron acquisition from siderophores by microorganisms and plants. Plant and Soil 136: 179–198.

  46. 45

    Barber, D.A. and Lee, R.B. 1974. The effect of micro-organisms on the absorption of manganese by plants. New Phytol. 73: 97–106.

  47. 46

    Kinnersely, A.M. 1993. The role of phytochelates in plant growth and productivity. Plant Growth Regulation 12: 207–217.

  48. 47

    Romheld, V. 1991. The role of phytosiderophores in acquisition of iron and other micronutrients in graminaceous species: An ecological approach. Plant and Soil 130: 127–134.

  49. 48

    Robinson, N.J., Tommey, A.M., Kuske, C. and Jackson, P.J. 1993. Plant metallothioneins. Biochem. J. 295: 1–10.

  50. 49

    Rauser, W.E. 1990. Phytochelatins. Ann. Rev. Biochem. 59: 61–86.

  51. 50

    Welch, R.M., Norvell, W.A., Schaefer, S.C., Shaff, J.E. and Kochian, L.V. 1993. Planta 190: 555–561.

  52. 51

    Clarkson, D.T. and Luttge, U. 1989. III. Mineral nutrision: Divalent cations, transport and compartmentalization. Prog. Botany 51: 93–112.

  53. 52

    Stephan, U.W. and Scholz, G. 1993. Nicotianamine: mediator of transport of iron and heavy metals in the phloem? Physiol. Plant. 88: 522–529.

  54. 53

    Senden, M.H.M.N., Van Paassen, F.J.M., Van Der Meer, A.J.G.M. and Wolterbeek, H. Th. Cadmium-citric acid-xylem cell wall interactions in tomato plants. Plant Cell Env. 15: 71–79.

  55. 54

    Przemeck, E. and Haase, N.U. 1991. On the bonding of manganese, copper and cadmium to peptides of the xylem sap of plant roots. Water Air Soil Pollution 57–58: 569–577.

  56. 55

    Tomsett, A.B. and Thurman, D.A. 1988. Molecular biology of metal tolerances of plants. Plant Cell Env. 11: 383–394.

  57. 56

    Jackson, P.J., Unkefer, P.J., Delhaize, E. and Robinson, N.J. 1990. Mechanisms of trace metal tolerance in plants, p. 231–255. In: Environmental Injury to Plants. Katterman, F. (Ed.). Academic Press, San Diego, CA.

  58. 57

    Ernst, W.H.O., Schat, H. and Verkleij, J.A.C. 1990. Evolutionary biology of metal resistance in Silene vulgaris. Evolutionary Trends in Plants 4: 45–51.

  59. 58

    Cumming, J.R. and Taylor, G.J. 1990. Mechanisms of metal tolerance in plants: Physiological adaptations for exclusion of metal ions from the cytoplasm, p. 329–359. In: Stress Responses in Plants: Adaptation and Acclimation Mechanisms, Alscher, R. G., and Cumming, J. R. (Eds.). Wiley-Liss, Inc.

  60. 59

    Thurman, D.A. 1981. Mechanisms of metal tolerance in higher plants, p. 239–249. In: Effects of Heavy Metal Pollution on Plants. Lepp, N. W. (Ed.). Applied Science Publishers, London, England.

  61. 60

    Mathys, W. 1977. The role of malate, oxalate, and mustard oil glucosides in the evolution of zinc-resistance in herbage plants. Physiol. Plant. 40: 130–136.

  62. 61

    Brookes, A., Collins, J.C. and Thurman, D.A. l981. The mechanism of zinc tolerance in grasses. Journal of Plant Nutrition 3: 695–705.

  63. 62

    Krotz, R.M., Evangelou, B.P. and Wagner, G.J. 1989. Relationship between cadmium, zinc, Cd-peptide, and organic acid in (obacco suspension cells. Plant Physiol. 91: 780–787.

  64. 63

    Brune, A., Urbach, W. and Dietz, K.-J. 1994. Compartmentation and transport of zinc in barley primary leaves as basic mechanisms involved in zinc tolerance. Plant Cell Env. 17: 153–162.

  65. 64

    Vazquez, M.D., Barcelo, J., Poschenrieder, Ch, Madico, J., Hatton, P., Baker, A.J.M. and Cope, G.H. 1992. Localization of zinc and cadmium in Thlaspi caerulescens (Brassicaceae), a metallophyte that can hyperaccumulate both metals. J. Plant Physiol. 140: 350–355.

  66. 65

    Vazquez, M.D., Poschenrieder, Ch, Barcelo, J., Baker, A.J.M., Hatton, P. and Cope, G.H. 1994. Compartmentation of zinc in roots and leaves of the zinc hyperaccumulator Thlaspi caerulescens. Bot. Acta. 107: 243–250.

  67. 66

    Davies, K.L., Davies, M.S. and Francis, D. 1991. Zinc-induced vacuolation in root meristematic cells of Festuca rubra L. Plant Cell Env. 14: 399–406.

  68. 67

    Van Steveninck, R.F.M., Van Steveninck, M.E., Fernando, D.R., Horst, W.J. and Marschner, H. 1987. Deposition of zinc phytate in globular bodies in roots of Deschampsia caespitosa ecotypes; a detoxification mechanism? J. Plant Physiol. 131: 247–257.

  69. 68

    Van Steveninck, R.F.M., Van Steveninck, M.E., Wells, A.J. and Fernando, D.R. 1990. Zinc tolerance and the binding of zinc as zinc phytate in Lemna minor. X-Ray microanalytical evidence. J. Plant Physiol. 137: 140–146.

  70. 69

    Van Steveninck, R.F.M., Van Steveninck, M.E. and Fernando, D.R. 1992. Heavy-metal (Zn, Cd) tolerance in selected clones of duck weed (Lemna minor). Plant and Soil 146: 271–280.

  71. 70

    Vogeli-Lange, R. and Wagner, G.J. 1990. Subcellular localization of cadmium-binding peptides in tobacco leaves. Implications of a transport function for cadmium-binding peptides. Plant Physiol. 92: 1086–1093.

  72. 71

    Heuillet, E., Moreau, A., Halpern, S., Jeanne, N. and Puiseux-Dao, S. 1986. Cadmium binding to a thiol-molecule in vacuoles of Dunaliella bioculata contaminated with CdCl2: electron probe microanalysis. Biology of the Cell 58: 79–86.

  73. 72

    Steffens, J.C. 1990. The heavy metal-binding peptides of plants. Annu Rev. Plant Physiol. Mol. Biol. 41: 553–575.

  74. 73

    Salt, D.E. and Wagner, G.J. 1993. Cadmium transport across tonoplast of vesicles from oat roots. Evidence For a Cd+2/H+ antiport activity. J. Biol. Chem. 268: 12297–12302.

  75. 74

    Salt, D.E. and Rauser, W.E. 1995. MgATP-dependent transport of phytochelatins across the tonoplast of oat roots. Plant Physiol. 107: 1293–1301.

  76. 75

    Reese, R.N., White, C.A. and Winge, D.R. 1992. Cadmium-sulflde crystallites in Cd-(γEC)nG peptide complexes from tomato. Plant Physiol. 98: 225–229.

  77. 76

    Speiser, D.M., Abrahamson, S.L., Banuelos, G. and Ow, D.W. 1992. Brassica juncea produces a phytochelatin-cadmium-sulfide complex. Plant Physiol. 99: 817–821.

  78. 77

    de Knecht, J.A., van Dillen, M., Koevoets, P.L.M., Schat, H., Verkleij, J.A.C. and Ernst, W.H.O. 1994. Phytochelatins in cadmium-tolerant Silene vulgaris. Phytochelatins in Cadmium-Sensitive and Cadmium-Tolerant Silene vulgaris. Chain Length Distribution and Sulfide Incorporation. Plant Physiol. 104: 255–261.

  79. 78

    Salt, D.E., Thurman, D.A., Tomsett, A.B. and Sewell, A.K. 1989. Copper phytochelatins in Mimulus guttatus. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. Series B. 236: 79–89.

  80. 79

    Tomsett, A.B., Salt, D.E., de Miranda, J. and Thurman, D.A. 1989. Metallothioneins and metal tolerance. Aspects of applied biology, roots and the soil environment. Aspects Appl. Biol. 22: 365–372.

  81. 80

    Tomsett, A.B., Sewell, A.K., Jones, S.J., De Miranda, J.R. and Thurman, D.A. 1992. Metal-binding proteins and metal-regulated gene expression in higher plants, p. 1–24. In: Society for Experimental Biology Seminar Series 49: Inducible Plant Proteins, Wray, J. L. (Ed.). Cambridge University Press, UK.

  82. 81

    Lefebvre, D.D., Miki, B.L. and Laliberte, J.-F. 1987. Mammalian metallothionein functions in plants. Bio/Technololgy 5: 1053–1056.

  83. 82

    Misra, S. and Gedamu, L. 1989. Heavy metal tolerant Brassica napus L. and Nicotiana tabacum L. plants. Theor. Appl. Genet. 78: 161–168.

  84. 83

    Maiti, I.B., Wagner, G.J. and Hunt, A.G. 1991. Light inducible and tissue specific expression of a chimeric mouse metallothionein cDNA gene in tobacco. Plant Science 76: 99–107.

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

  1. AgBiotech Center, Rutgers University, Cook College, P.O. Box 231, New Brunswick, NJ, 08903

    • David E. Salt
    • , Michael Blaylock
    • , Nanda P.B.A. Kumar
    • , Viatcheslav Dushenkov
    • , Ilan Chet
    •  & Ilya Raskin
  2. Phytotech Inc., 1 Deer Park Dr., Suite I, Monmouth Junction, NJ, 08852

    • Burt D. Ensley

Authors

  1. Search for David E. Salt in:

  2. Search for Michael Blaylock in:

  3. Search for Nanda P.B.A. Kumar in:

  4. Search for Viatcheslav Dushenkov in:

  5. Search for Burt D. Ensley in:

  6. Search for Ilan Chet in:

  7. Search for Ilya Raskin in:

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ilya Raskin.

About this article

Publication history

Issue Date

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt0595-468

Further reading