Phytoextraction of heavy metals from contaminated soil, water and atmosphere using ornamental plants: mechanisms and efficiency improvement strategies

Behnam Asgari Lajayer, Nader Khadem Moghadam, Mohammad Reza Maghsoodi, Mansour Ghorbanpour, Khalil Kariman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

120 Citations (Scopus)


Accumulation of heavy metals (HMs) in soil, water and air is one of the major environmental concerns worldwide, which mainly occurs due to anthropogenic activities such as industrialization, urbanization, and mining. Conventional remediation strategies involving physical or chemical techniques are not cost-effective and/or eco-friendly, reinforcing the necessity for development of novel approaches. Phytoextraction has attracted considerable attention over the past decades and generally refers to use of plants for cleaning up environmental pollutants such as HMs. Compared to other plant types such as edible crops and medicinal plants, ornamental plants (OPs) seem to be a more viable option as they offer several advantages including cleaning up the HMs pollution, beautification of the environment, by-product generation and related economic benefits, and not generally being involved in the food/feed chain or other direct human applications. Phytoextraction ability of OPs involve diverse detoxification pathways such as enzymatic and non-enzymatic (secondary metabolites) antioxidative responses, distribution and deposition of HMs in the cell walls, vacuoles and metabolically inactive tissues, and chelation of HMs by a ligand such as phytochelatins followed by the sequestration of the metal–ligand complex into the vacuoles. The phytoextraction efficiency of OPs can be improved through chemical, microbial, soil amending, and genetic approaches, which primarily target bioavailability, uptake, and sequestration of HMs. In this review, we explore the phytoextraction potential of OPs for remediation of HMs-polluted environments, underpinning mechanisms, efficiency improvement strategies, and highlight the potential future research directions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8468-8484
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


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