Integrating Biochar, Bacteria, and Plants for Sustainable Remediation of Soils Contaminated with Organic Pollutants

Leilei Xiang, Jean Damascene Harindintwali, Fang Wang, Marc Redmile-Gordon, Scott X. Chang, Yuhao Fu, Chao He, Bertrand Muhoza, Ferdi Brahushi, Nanthi Bolan, Xin Jiang, Yong Sik Ok, Jörg Rinklebe, Andreas Schaeffer, Yong-guan Zhu, James M. Tiedje, Baoshan Xing

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


The contamination of soil with organic pollutants has been accelerated by agricultural and industrial development and poses a major threat to global ecosystems and human health. Various chemical and physical techniques have been developed to remediate soils contaminated with organic pollutants, but challenges related to cost, efficacy, and toxic byproducts often limit their sustainability. Fortunately, phytoremediation, achieved through the use of plants and associated microbiomes, has shown great promise for tackling environmental pollution; this technology has been tested both in the laboratory and in the field. Plant–microbe interactions further promote the efficacy of phytoremediation, with plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB) often used to assist the remediation of organic pollutants. However, the efficiency of microbe-assisted phytoremediation can be impeded by (i) high concentrations of secondary toxins, (ii) the absence of a suitable sink for these toxins, (iii) nutrient limitations, (iv) the lack of continued release of microbial inocula, and (v) the lack of shelter or porous habitats for planktonic organisms. In this regard, biochar affords unparalleled positive attributes that make it a suitable bacterial carrier and soil health enhancer. We propose that several barriers can be overcome by integrating plants, PGPB, and biochar for the remediation of organic pollutants in soil. Here, we explore the mechanisms by which biochar and PGPB can assist plants in the remediation of organic pollutants in soils, and thereby improve soil health. We analyze the cost-effectiveness, feasibility, life cycle, and practicality of this integration for sustainable restoration and management of soil.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16546-16566
Number of pages21
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2022


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