Phytoremediation: Exploitation of Plants for Environmental Cleanup

Phytoremediation: Exploitation of Plants for Environmental Cleanup

Geeta Bhandari
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3126-5.ch018
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Environmental pollution with xenobiotics is a global problem and development of inventive remediation technologies for the decontamination of impacted sites are therefore of paramount importance. Phytoremediation capitalizes on plant systems for removal of pollutants from the environment. Phytoremediation is a low maintenance remediation strategy and less destructive than physical or chemical remediation. Phytoremediation may occur directly through uptake, translocation into plant shoots and metabolism (phytodegradation) or volatilization (phytovolatilization) or indirectly through plant-microbe-contaminant interactions within plant root zones (rhizospheres). In recent years, researchers have engineered plants with genes that can bestow superior degradation abilities. Thus, phytoremediation can be more explored, demonstrated, and/or implemented for the cleanup of metal contaminants, inorganic pollutants, and organic contaminants.
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Environmental pollution with organic, inorganic and xenobiotic compounds is a worldwide problem, and the development of inventive remediation technologies for the decontamination of polluted sites are therefore of supreme importance. Physical, chemical and biological methods are being used for the remediation of contaminated sites. Amongst all, phytoremediation has long been recognized as a cost effective and environment-friendly method for the cleanup of soil and water resources (Salt et al., 1998, 1995). Phytoremediation is a word formed from the Greek prefix “Phyto” means plant and suffix “remedium” mean to clean (or) restore (Cunningham et al., 1996). The term refers to collection of plant based technologies that use either naturally occurring or genetically engineered plants to detoxify soils, sediments, and aquatic sites contaminated with organic and inorganic pollutants (Flathman and Lanza, 1998). As a result of their sedentary nature, plants have evolved diverse abilities for dealing with toxic compounds in their environment. Plants act as solar-driven pumping and filtering systems as they take up the contaminants (mainly water soluble) through their roots and translocate them to various tissues where they can be metabolized, sequestered, or volatilized (Cunningham et al., 1996). Phytoremediation avoids excavation and transport of polluted media sites thus reducing the risk of spreading the contamination and has the potential to treat sites polluted with more than one type of pollutant.

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