Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 26, pp 26449–26471 | Cite as

A review on global metal accumulators—mechanism, enhancement, commercial application, and research trend

  • Aishath Naila
  • Gerrit Meerdink
  • Vijay Jayasena
  • Ahmad Z. Sulaiman
  • Azilah B. AjitEmail author
  • Graziella Berta
Review Article


The biosphere is polluted with metals due to burning of fossil fuels, pesticides, fertilizers, and mining. The metals interfere with soil conservations such as contaminating aqueous waste streams and groundwater, and the evidence of this has been recorded since 1900. Heavy metals also impact human health; therefore, the emancipation of the environment from these environmental pollutants is critical. Traditionally, techniques to remove these metals include soil washing, removal, and excavation. Metal-accumulating plants could be utilized to remove these metal pollutants which would be an alternative option that would simultaneously benefit commercially and at the same time clean the environment from these pollutants. Commercial application of pollutant metals includes biofortification, phytomining, phytoremediation, and intercropping. This review discusses about the metal-accumulating plants, mechanism of metal accumulation, enhancement of metal accumulation, potential commercial applications, research trends, and research progress to enhance the metal accumulation, benefits, and limitations of metal accumulators. The review identified that the metal accumulator plants only survive in low or medium polluted environments with heavy metals. Also, more research is required about metal accumulators in terms of genetics, breeding potential, agronomics, and the disease spectrum. Moreover, metal accumulators’ ability to uptake metals need to be optimized by enhancing metal transportation, transformation, tolerance to toxicity, and volatilization in the plant. This review would benefit the industries and environment management authorities as it provides up-to-date research information about the metal accumulators, limitation of the technology, and what could be done to improve the metal enhancement in the future.


Heavy metals Environmental waste management Phytoremediation Metal accumulators Toxicity Biofortification Phytomining, intercropping 



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Centre, Central AdministrationThe Maldives National University (MNU)MaleMaldives
  2. 2.Food Science and Technology Unit, Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversity of the West Indies, – St. Augustine CampusSt. AugustineTrinidad & Tobago
  3. 3.School of Science and HealthWestern Sydney UniversitySydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Faculty of Bio-Engineering and TechnologyUniversiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK)Kelantan Darul NaimMalaysia
  5. 5.Faculty of Chemical & Natural Resources EngineeringUniversiti Malaysia PahangGambangMalaysia
  6. 6.Dipartimento di Scienze e Innovazione TecnologicaUniversity of Piemonte OrientaleAlessandriaItaly

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