Phytoremediation of Heavy Metal Contaminated and Polluted Soils

  • P. K. Saxena
  • S. KrishnaRaj
  • T. Dan
  • M. R. Perras
  • N. N. Vettakkorumakankav


Most plants and animals depend on soil, as a growth substrate, for their sustained growth and development. In many instances the sustenance of life in the soil matrix is adversely affected by the presence of deleterious substances or contaminants. These pollutants can be broadly classified into two groups: (1) organic, which contain carbon, and (2) inorganic, devoid of carbon (Webber and Singh 1995). The focus of this chapter is to provide an overview of the plant-based remediation strategies for inorganic pollutants, while the use of such strategies for organic pollutants is also briefly discussed (for an indepth review see Cunningham et al. 1995).


Heavy Metal Metal Uptake Metal Tolerance Metal Contaminant Dimethyl Diselenide 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alexander M (1995) How toxic are toxic chemicals in soil? Environ Sci Technol 29: 27132717Google Scholar
  2. Arisi ACM, Noctor G, Foyer CH, Jouanin L (1997) Modification of thiol contents in poplars (Populus tremula x P. alba) overexpressing enzymes involved in glutathione synthesis. Planta 203: 362–372PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bae W, Mehra RK (1997) Metal-binding characteristics of a phytochelatin analog (Glu-Cys)Z Gly. J Inorg Biochem 68: 201–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baker AJM (1981) Accumulators and excluders-strategies in the response of plants to heavy metals. J Plant Nutr 3: 643–654CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baker AJM, Brooks RR (1989) Terrestrial higher plants which hyperaccumulate metallic ele-ments-A review of their distribution, ecology and phytochemistry. Biorecovery 1: 81–126Google Scholar
  6. Baker AJM, Brooks RR, Reeves RD (1989) Growing for gold and copper and zinc. New Sci 10: 44–48Google Scholar
  7. Baker AJM, Reeves RD, Hajar ASM (1994) Heavy metal accumulation and tolerance in British populations of the metallophyte Thlaspi caerulescens J. & C. Presi ( Brassicaceae ). New Phytol 127: 61–68Google Scholar
  8. Bell RM (1992) Higher plant accumulation of organic pollutants from soils. USEPA Risk Reduction Engineering Lab, EPA/600/SR-92/138Google Scholar
  9. Blaylock MG, Salt DE, Dushenkov V, Zacharova O, Gussman C, Kapulnik Y, Ensley BD, Raskin I (1997) Enhanced accumulation of Pb in Indian mustard by soil applied chelating agents. Environ Sci Technol 13: 860–865CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brandie JE, Labbe H, Hattori J, Miki BL (1993) Field performance and heavy metal concentration in transgenic flue-cured tobacco expressing a mammalian metallothionein-13-glucuronidase gene fusion. Genome 36: 255–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brooks RR, Morrison RS, Reeves RD, Dudley TR, Akman Y (1979) Hyperaccumulation of nickel by Alyssum linnaeus ( Cruciferae ). Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 203: 387–403Google Scholar
  12. Brown SL, Chaney RL, Angle JS, Baker AJM (1994) Phytoremediaton potential of Thlaspi caerulescens and bladder campion for zinc-and cadmium-contaminated soil. J Environ Qual 23: 1151–1157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brown SL, Chaney RL, Angle JS, Baker AJM (1995) Zinc and cadmium uptake by Thlaspi caerulescens and Silene vulgaris grown in nutrient solution. Soil Sci Soc Am J 59: 125133Google Scholar
  14. Chaney RL, Brown SL, Li JM, Angle JS, Gree C (1995) Potential use of heavy metal accumulators, Mining Environ Manage 3: 9–11Google Scholar
  15. Cunningham SD, Ow DW (1996) Promises and prospects of phytoremediation. Plant Physiol 110: 715–719PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Cunningham SD, Berti WR, Huang JWW (1995) Phytoremediation of contaminated soils. Trends Biotechnol 13: 393–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cutter JM, Rains DM (1974) Characterization of Cd uptake by plant tissue. Plant Physiol 54: 67–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dan T, Perras MR, KrishnaRaj S, Saxena PK (1998) Phytoremediation of contaminated soils:scented geranium as hyperaccumulator for remediation of lead, cadmium and nickel contaminated soils. Proceedings of IBCs 3rd Annual International Conference on Phytoremediation Strategies and Evaluation of Phytoremediation performance in the field. Houston, TXGoogle Scholar
  19. Dushenkov V, Kumar PBAN, Motto H, Raskin I (1995) Rhizofiltration: the use of plants to remove heavy metals from aqueous streams. Environ Sci Technol 29: 1239–1245Google Scholar
  20. Eide D, Broderius M, Fett J, Guerinot ML (1996) A novel iron-regulated metal transporter from plants identified by functional expression in yeast. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 93: 5624PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ernst WHO (1996) Bioavailability of heavy metals. Appl Geochem 11: 163–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ernst WHO, Verkleij JAC, Schat H (1992) Metal tolerance in plants. Acta Bot Neerl 41: 229 248Google Scholar
  23. Evans CS, Asher CJ, Johnson CM (1968) Isolation of dimethyl diselenide and other volatile selenium compounds from Astragalus racemosus ( Pursh. ). Aust J Biol Sci 21: 13–20Google Scholar
  24. Fox TC, Guerinot, ML (1998) Molecular biology of cations transport in plants, Annu Rev Plant Physiol Plant Mol Biol 49: 669–696PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Friedland AJ (1990) The movement of metals through soils and ecosystems. In: Shaw AJ (ed) Heavy metals tolerance in plants: evolutionary aspects. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp. 7–19Google Scholar
  26. Glass DJ (1998) Phytoremediation technologires and application. In: The 1998 United States market for phytoremediation. D. Glass Associates Inc., Needham, MA. pp. 3–16Google Scholar
  27. Godbold DL, Horst WJ, Thurmann DA, Marschner H (1984) Accumulation of zinc and organic acids in roots of zinc-tolerant and non-tolerant ecotypes of Deschampsia caepitosa. J Plant Physiol 116, 59PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Grotz N, Fox T, Connolly E, Park W, Guerinot ML, Eide D (1998) Identification of a family of zinc transporter genes from Arabidopsis that respond to zinc deficiency. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 95: 7220–7224PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hardiman RF, Jacoby B, Banin A (1984) Factors affecting the distribution of copper, cadmium and lead and their influence upon yield and Zn content in bush beans (Phaseolus vulgaris). Plant Soil 81: 17–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hathway DE (1989) Molecular mechanisms of herbicide selectivity. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  31. Hattori J, Labbe H, Miki BL (1994) Construction and expression of a metallothionein-figlucuronidase gene fusion. Genome 37: 508–512PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Homer FA, Morrison RS, Brooks RR, Clemens J, Reeves RD (1991) Comparative studies of nickel, cobalt and copper uptake by some nickel hyperaccumulators of the genus Alyssum. Plant Soil 138: 195–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Huang JWW, Cunningham SD (1996) Lead phytoextraction: species variation in lead uptake and translocation. New Phytol 134: 75–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Huang JWW, Chen JJ, Berti WR, Cunningham SD (1997) Phytoremediation of lead-contami nated soils: role of synthetic chelates in lead phytoextraction. Environ Sci Technol 31: 800–805CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jaffre T, Brooks RR, Lee J, Reeves RD (1976) Sebertia acuminata: a nickel-accumulating plant from New Caledonia. Science 193: 579–580Google Scholar
  36. Joner EJ, Leyval C (1997) Nickel toxicity in mycorrhizal birch seedlings infected with Lactarius rufus or Scleroderma flavidum. New Phytol 135: 353–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kabata-Pendias A, Pendias H (1984) Trace elements in soil and plants. CRC Press. Boca Raton, pp 99–108Google Scholar
  38. Kampfenkel K, Kushnir S, Babiychuk E, Inze D, Van Montagu M (1995) Molecular characterization of a putative Arabidopsis thaliana copper transporter and its yeast homologue. J Biol Chem 270: 28479–86PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Killham K, Firestone MK (1983) Vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizal mediation of grass response to acidic and heavy metal depositions. Martinos Nijhoff/Junk, The Hague pp 3947Google Scholar
  40. Krämer U, Cotter-Howells JD, Charnock JM, Baker MM, Smith JA (1996) Free histidine as a metal chelator in plants that accumulate nickel. Nature 379: 635–637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kumar PBAN, Dushenkov V, Ensley BD, Chet I, Raskin I (1995) Phytore-mediation:A novel strategy for the removal of toxic metals from environment using plants. Biotechnology 13: 1332–1238Google Scholar
  42. Kumar PBAN, Dushenkov et al. V, Motto H, Raskin I (1995) Phytoextraction: the use of plants to remove heavy metals from soils. Environ Sci Tehnol 29: 1232–1238Google Scholar
  43. Kuo S, Jellum EJ, Baker AJ (1985) The effect of pH on metal uptake. Am Soc Soil Sci 139: 122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lambert PE, Baker DE, Cole H (1976) The role of mycorrhizae in the interactions of phosphorus with Zn, Cu, and other elements. Soil Sci Soc Am J 43: 976–980Google Scholar
  45. Lee J, Reeves RD, Brooks RR, Jaffre T (1977) Isolation and identification of a citrate-complex of nickel from nickel-accumulating plants. Phytochemistry 16: 1503–1505CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Malone C, Koeppe DE, Miller RJ (1974) Localization of lead accumulated by corn plants. Plant Physiol 53: 388–394PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Marschner H (1995) Mineral nutrition of higher plants. 2ndedn, Academic Press, London Mench MK, Morel JL, Guckert B (1988) Metal binding with root exudates of low molecular weight. J Soil Sci 39: 521–527Google Scholar
  48. Pan A, Tie F, Duau Z, Yang M, Wang Z, Ku L, Chen Z, Ru B (1994) a-domain of human metallothionein I-A can bind to metals in transgenic tobacco plants. Mol Gen Genet 242: 666–674.Google Scholar
  49. Pignatello JJ (1989) Sorption dynamics of organic compounds in soils and sediments and. In: Sawhney BL, Brown K (eds) Reactions and movement of organic chemicals in soils. Soil Science Society of America, Madison, WI, pp. 45–80Google Scholar
  50. Prezemeck E, Haase NU (1991) The bonding of manganese, copper and cadmium to peptides of the xylem sap of plant roots. Water Air Soil Pollut 57–58: 569–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Raskin I, Kumar PBAN, Dushenkov S, Salt DE (1994) Bioconcentration of heavy metals by plants. Curr Opinion Biotechnol 5: 285–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Robinson NJ, Tommey AM, Kuske C, Jackson PJ (1993) Plant metallothioneins. Biochem J 295: 1–10PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Rugh CL, Wilde HD, Stack NM, Thompson DM, Summers AO, Meagher RB (1996) Mercuric ion reduction and resistance in transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants expressing a modified bacterial merA gene. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 93: 3182–3187Google Scholar
  54. Salt DE, Blaylock M, Kumar PBAN, Dushenkov V, Ensley BD, Chet I, Raskin I (1995) Phytoremediation: a novel strategy for the removal of toxic metals from the environment using plants. Biotechnology 13: 468–474PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Salt DE, Smith RD, Raskin I (1998) Phytoremediation. Annu Rev Plant Physiol Plant Molec Biol 49: 643–668CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Schnoor JL, Licht LA, McCutcheon SC, Wolfe NL, Carreira LH (1995) Phytoremediation of contaminated soils and sediments. Environ Sci Technol 29: 318–323Google Scholar
  57. Srivastava A, Appenroth KJ (1995) Interactions of EDTA and iron on the accumulation of the Cd+2 in duckweeds ( Lemnaceae ). J Plant Physiol 146: 173–176Google Scholar
  58. Thurmann DA, Collins JC (1989) Metal tolerance in higher plants review. Proceedings of international conference of heavy metals in the environment, Edinburgh, CEP Consultants pp. 298–304Google Scholar
  59. Trevors JT, van Elsas JD (1997) Microbial interaction in soil. In: van Elsas JD, Trevors JT, Elizabeth MH, Wellington EMH (eds) Modern soil microbiology. Dekker New York, pp. 215–239Google Scholar
  60. Vassil AD, Kapulnik Y, Raskin I, Salt DE (1998) The role of EDTA in lead transport accumulation by Indian mustard. Plant Physiol 117: 447–453PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Webber MD, Singh SS (1995) Towards sustainable agriculture in Canada. In: Acton DF, Gregorich LG (eds) The health of our soils. Center For Land and Biological Resources Research. Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, publication 1906/e, pp 87–96Google Scholar
  62. Woolhouse HW (1983) Toxicity and tolerance in the response of plants to metals. In: Lange O, Nobel PS, Osmond CB, Ziegler H (eds) Encyclopedia of plant physiol, new series, vol 12. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, pp 245–300Google Scholar
  63. Yeargan R, Maiti IB, Nielsen MT, Hunt AG, Wagner GJ (1992) Tissue partioning of metallothionein I gene. Transgenic Res 1: 261–267PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. K. Saxena
    • 1
  • S. KrishnaRaj
    • 1
  • T. Dan
    • 1
  • M. R. Perras
    • 1
  • N. N. Vettakkorumakankav
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Biotechnology, Department of Plant AgricultureUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

Personalised recommendations