Phytoremediation uses plants to degrade, remove or stabilize toxic compounds from contaminated soil and water. The serious problem of soil contaminated with heavy metals or organic chemicals affects human health, ecosystem functions and agriculture. Experts estimate the cost of soil cleanup in the United States in the billions of dollars. Researchers believe that phytoremediation could provide an extremely cost-effective and much less disruptive cleanup process when compared to traditional cleanup techniques, such as transporting massive amounts of contaminated soil to hazardous waste landfills.
NSF is funding three multidisciplinary research projects that will investigate the genetic components of phytoremediation of heavy metals in soils. One project will determine the suite of genes responsible for heavy-metal hyperaccumulation in Thlaspi caerulescens. A second will perform a search of the genomes of brassicaceous plants for genes involved in metal hyper accumulation. A third will study the mechanisms of arsenic uptake, translocation, distribution and detoxification by the Brake fern, a common fern in the southeastern U.S. and California. The research awards come from NSFs Integrative Plant Biology and Environmental Engineering/Environmental Technology Programs.
EPA research projects are diverse and designed to explain the mechanisms for phytoremediation of organic chemicals including polyaromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated bi-phenyls, and chlorinated pesticides. Knowledge will be unearthed to better understand three scientific problems: the micro
Contact: Andrea M. Dietrich
National Science Foundation