Phytoremediation of Heavy Metal Contaminated Soils: Plant Stress Assessment pp. 185-222
Authors: (Jana Kadukova, Jana Kavuličova, Technical University of Kosice, Faculty of Metallurgy, Department of Non-Ferrous Metals and Waste Treatment, Kosice, Slovakia, and others)
Abstract: Phytoremediation advantages are widely known nowadays. It is a method applicable for large areas with low concentration of pollutants treatment or areas where only the finishing step of cleaning is required. Very often these kinds of places represent great problems because there is no possibility to take all the soil to the landfills, and often they are part of agricultural fields. There are many studies dealing with application of a variety of plants for the treatment of soils contaminated by heavy metals or organics. Plants growing on these contaminated soils developed several ways of coping with the toxicity of pollutants including avoiding their accumulation, different detoxification mechanisms or even metal excretion from their body. Our work is focused on heavy metal contamination cleanup by phytoremediation with the aim to describe some of the possible ways to assess the stress of plants. There are several factors which can be used in the plant stress assessment such as reduction of biomass production, plant growth inhibition, changes in photosynthesis, germination inhibition, and production of antioxidant enzymes. Knowledge of these factors brings us closer to understanding the molecular mechanisms of heavy metal accumulation by plants and it indirectly helps further application of phytoremediation as well as has numerous additional biotechnological implications. For instance, health-threatening human deficiencies in trace metals appear to be widespread in developing countries and possibly worldwide but engineering of plants accumulating essential metals such as Zn or Se in their edible parts might help in enriching human diets for these important elements.