Phytoremediation: A New Hope for the Environment
Pp. 149-171 (23)
Sarvjeet Kukreja and Umesh Goutam
A proportion of major environmental and human health problems’ are imposed by contaminated
soils and water. These natural resources are prone to contamination by both organic and inorganic
contaminants. Heavy metals like Cu, Cd, Zn, As, Hg are the major inorganic contaminants. These
contaminants are the result of various controlled and uncontrolled human activities like disposal of waste,
mining etc. The major danger from these contaminants is their entry into human food chain because of
possibility of certain plants to accumulate and translocate these contaminants to edible and harvested parts.
Most of the conventional remedial technologies can be successful in certain specific situations, but, they are
expensive and inhibit the soil fertility; thus subsequently causes negative impacts on the ecosystem. Different
emerging phytoremediation technologies which imply the use of plants to remove or lower down the metal
contamination may be used to combat the problem. This cost-effective plant-based approach to remediation
takes advantage of the remarkable ability of plants to extract, sequester and detoxify pollutants. There are
several types of phytoremediation viz., Phytoextraction, Phytostabilization, Rhizofiltration and
Phytodegradation/Phytovolatalization. Hyperaccumulators are the best candidates for phytoremediation
process. In recent years, knowledge of the physiological and molecular mechanisms of phytoremediation
began to emerge together with biological and engineering strategies designed to optimize and improve
phytoremediation. Transgenic plants have been developed for metal uptake, tolerance and detoxification.
Genetic engineering is surely a powerful tool allowing investigating, evaluating and improving the potential
Heavy metals, phytoremediation, phytoextraction, phytostabilization.
Lovely Professional University, Jalandhar, Punjab, India