Future Phytoremediation Practices for Metal-Contaminated Soils

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant–Soil Interactions".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 January 2024) | Viewed by 4421

Special Issue Editors

Linking Landscape, Environment, Agriculture and Food (LEAF), Research Center, Associated Laboratory TERRA, Instituto Superior de Agronomia (ISA), Universidade de Lisboa, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-017 Lisboa, Portugal
Interests: phytoremediation of contaminated sites; potential hazardous elements in soil/plant systems; in situ remediation low cost techniques for mine wastes/degraded soils recovery by using Technosols and tolerant plants (spontaneous and non-accumulator edible plants)
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Department of Agricultural Chemistry, Geology and Pedology, Universidad de Murcia, Department of Agricultural Chemistry, Murcia, Spain
Interests: reclamation of contaminated areas; sustainable solutions for the rehabilitation of degraded and contaminated sites such as the application of technosols and wetlands; mine soils and AMD; assessment of health and ecosystem risks caused by potentially toxic elements
LEAF—Linking Landscape, Environment, Agriculture and Food Research Center, Associate Laboratory TERRA, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade de Lisboa, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-017 Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: soil quality; nature-based techniques; environmental geochemistry, soil-plant interactions
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Soil contamination is a worldwide problem with a direct impact on food security, human health and the environment. Human activities are the main sources of soil contamination, such as unsustainable farming practices, industrial and mining activities, sewage and waste disposal, contributing to increase the concentration of potentially toxic substances [chemical elements (e.g. metals, semimetals, radionuclides) and organic compounds] in ecosystems. The development of technologies for the rehabilitation of soil properties, including its fertility and quality is a challenge. Eco-friendly and efficient technologies should be introduced and encouraged to meet Sustainable Development Goals.

Phytoremediation practices that consider the soil-plant system, and particularly the rhizosphere area and soil biota, are environmentally friendly, sustainable, accessible and effective approaches to the recovery of contaminated/polluted soils and ecosystems. They also increase soil organic matter, carbon sequestration and stabilization of inorganic contaminants and the degradation of organic contaminants in soils.

This Special Issue of Plants welcomes articles that present research results in all fundamental and applied fields of Phytoremediation techniques.

Prof. Dr. Maria Manuela Abreu
Dr. Carmen Pérez-Sirvent
Dr. Erika S. Santos
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • soil phytoremediation
  • eco-friendly technologies
  • potentially hazardous elements
  • soil contamination

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

13 pages, 3206 KiB  
Article
Crinum bulbispermum, a Medicinal Geophyte with Phytostabilization Properties in Metal-Enriched Mine Tailings
Plants 2024, 13(1), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants13010079 - 26 Dec 2023
Viewed by 680
Abstract
Ancient grasslands are lost through transformation to agriculture, mining, and urban expansion. Land-use change leads to ecosystem degradation and a subsequent loss of biodiversity. Globally, degraded grasslands have become a priority for restoration efforts to recover lost ecosystem services. Although the ecological and [...] Read more.
Ancient grasslands are lost through transformation to agriculture, mining, and urban expansion. Land-use change leads to ecosystem degradation and a subsequent loss of biodiversity. Globally, degraded grasslands have become a priority for restoration efforts to recover lost ecosystem services. Although the ecological and social benefits of woody species and grasses are well documented, limited research has considered the use of forbs for restoration purposes despite their benefits (e.g., C sequestration and medicinal uses). The aim of this study was to determine if Crinum bulbispermum (Burm.f.) Milne-Redh. & Schweick., a medicinal geophyte, could form part of restoration initiatives to restore mine soils in grasslands of the South African Highveld. A pot experiment was conducted to assess the performance of C. bulbispermum in a random design, with three soil treatments varying in level of degradation and metal contamination. The plants were monitored for 12 months, and the morphological characters were measured monthly to assess performance and survival. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) was used to determine the soil and plant tissue concentration of potentially toxic metals. The results indicated that mine tailings negatively affected the growth and development of C. bulbispermum. Although the survival rates indicated that it could survive on tailings, its below-par productivity indicated that the species is not ideal for restoration purposes unless the tailings are ameliorated with topsoil. Although there was root accumulation of metals (Co, Cd, Cu, Mo, and Zn), there was no translocation to the bulbs and leaves, which makes C. bulbispermum suitable for medicinal use even when grown on metal-enriched soil. This species may not be viable for phytoremediation but is a contender to be used in phytostabilization due to its ecological advantages and the fact that it does not accumulate or store metals. These findings underscore the importance of considering geophytes in grassland restoration strategies, expanding their ecological and societal benefits beyond conventional approaches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future Phytoremediation Practices for Metal-Contaminated Soils)
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20 pages, 2214 KiB  
Article
The Potential of Bioaugmentation-Assisted Phytoremediation Derived Maize Biomass for the Production of Biomethane via Anaerobic Digestion
Plants 2023, 12(20), 3623; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12203623 - 20 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 757
Abstract
Anthropogenic behaviors are causing the severe build-up of heavy metal (HM) pollutants in the environment, particularly in soils. Amongst a diversity of remediation technologies, phytoremediation is an environmentally friendly technology that, when coupling tolerant plants to selected rhizospheric microorganisms, can greatly stimulate HM [...] Read more.
Anthropogenic behaviors are causing the severe build-up of heavy metal (HM) pollutants in the environment, particularly in soils. Amongst a diversity of remediation technologies, phytoremediation is an environmentally friendly technology that, when coupling tolerant plants to selected rhizospheric microorganisms, can greatly stimulate HM decontamination of soils. Maize (Zea mays) is a plant with the reported capacity for HM exclusion from contaminated soil but also has energetic importance. In this study, Zea mays was coupled with Rhizophagus irregularis, an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AMF), and Cupriavidus sp. strain 1C2, a plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR), as a remediation approach to remove Cd and Zn from an industrial contaminated soil (1.2 mg Cd kg−1 and 599 mg Zn kg−1) and generate plant biomass, by contrast to the conservative development of the plant in an agricultural (with no metal pollution) soil. Biomass production and metal accumulation by Z. mays were monitored, and an increase in plant yield of ca. 9% was observed after development in the contaminated soil compared to the soil without metal contamination, while the plants removed ca. 0.77% and 0.13% of the Cd and Zn initially present in the soil. The resulting biomass (roots, stems, and cobs) was used for biogas generation in several biomethane (BMP) assays to evaluate the potential end purpose of the phytoremediation-resulting biomass. It was perceptible that the HMs existent in the industrial soil did not hinder the anaerobic biodegradation of the biomass, being registered biomethane production yields of ca. 183 and 178 mL of CH4 g−1 VS of the complete plant grown in non-contaminated and contaminated soils, respectively. The generation of biomethane from HM-polluted soils’ phytoremediation-derived maize biomass represents thus a promising possibility to be a counterpart to biogas production in an increasingly challenging status of renewable energy necessities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future Phytoremediation Practices for Metal-Contaminated Soils)
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20 pages, 2266 KiB  
Article
A Green Solution for the Rehabilitation of Marginal Lands: The Case of Lablab purpureus (L.) Sweet Grown in Technosols
Plants 2023, 12(14), 2682; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12142682 - 18 Jul 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 994
Abstract
Reclamation of abandoned mining areas can be a potentially viable solution to tackle three major problems: waste mismanagement, environmental contamination, and growing food demand. This study aims to evaluate the rehabilitation of mining areas into agricultural production areas using integrated biotechnology and combining [...] Read more.
Reclamation of abandoned mining areas can be a potentially viable solution to tackle three major problems: waste mismanagement, environmental contamination, and growing food demand. This study aims to evaluate the rehabilitation of mining areas into agricultural production areas using integrated biotechnology and combining Technosols with a multipurpose (forage, food, ornamental and medicinal) drought-resistant legume, the Lablab purpureus (L.) Sweet. Two Technosols were prepared by combining gossan waste (GW) from an abandoned mining area with a mix of low-cost organic and inorganic materials. Before and after plant growth, several parameters were analysed, such as soil physicochemical characteristics, nutritional status, bioavailable concentrations of potentially hazardous elements (PHE), soil enzymatic activities, and development and accumulation of PHE in Lablab, among others. Both Technosols improved physicochemical conditions, nutritional status and microbiological activity, and reduced the bioavailability of most PHE (except As) of GW. Lablab thrived in both Technosols and showed PHE accumulation mainly in the roots, with PHE concentrations in the shoots that are safe for cattle and sheep consumption. Thus, this is a potential plant that, in conjunction with Technosols, constitutes a potential integrated biotechnology approach for the conversion of marginal lands, such as abandoned mining areas, into food-production areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future Phytoremediation Practices for Metal-Contaminated Soils)
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14 pages, 1338 KiB  
Article
Use of Three Different Nanoparticles to Reduce Cd Availability in Soils: Effects on Germination and Early Growth of Sinapis alba L.
Plants 2023, 12(4), 801; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12040801 - 10 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1396
Abstract
Globally, cadmium (Cd) is one of the metals that causes the most significant problems of contamination in agricultural soils and toxicity in living organisms. In this study, the ability of three different nanoparticles (dose 3% w/w) (hydroxyapatite (HANPs), maghemite (MNPs), [...] Read more.
Globally, cadmium (Cd) is one of the metals that causes the most significant problems of contamination in agricultural soils and toxicity in living organisms. In this study, the ability of three different nanoparticles (dose 3% w/w) (hydroxyapatite (HANPs), maghemite (MNPs), or zero-valent iron (FeNPs)) to decrease the availability of Cd in artificially contaminated agricultural soil was investigated. The effect of Cd and nanoparticles on germination and early growth of Sinapis alba L. was also assessed by tolerance/toxicity bioassays. The available Cd contents in the contaminated soil decreased after treatment with the nanoparticles (available Cd decreased with HANPs: >96.9%, MNPs: >91.9%, FeNPs: >94%), indicating that these nanoparticles are highly efficient for the fixation of available Cd. The toxicity/tolerance bioassays showed different behavior for each nanoparticle. The HANPs negatively affected germination (G(%): 20% worsening compared to control soil), early root growth (Gindex: −27.7% compared to control soil), and aerial parts (Apindex: −12%) of S. alba, but showed positive effects compared to Cd-contaminated soils (Gindex: +8–11%; Apindex: +26–47%). MNP treatment in Cd-contaminated soils had a positive effect on germination (G(%): 6–10% improvement) and early growth of roots (Gindex: +16%) and aerial parts (Apindex: +16–19%). The FeNPs had a positive influence on germination (G(%): +10%) and growth of aerial parts (Apindex: +12–16%) but not on early growth of roots (Gindex: 0%). These nanoparticles can be used to reduce highly available Cd contents in contaminated soils, but MNPs and FeNPs showed the most favorable effects on the early growth and germination of S. alba. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future Phytoremediation Practices for Metal-Contaminated Soils)
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