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Arsenic phytoextraction and hyperaccumulation by fern species

Author(s): Gonzaga Maria Isidoria Silva | Santos Jorge Antonio Gonzaga | Ma Lena Qiying

Journal: Scientia Agricola
ISSN 0103-9016

Volume: 63;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 90;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: environmental contamination | hyperaccumulator plants | phytoremediation

Arsenic (As) is an ubiquitous trace metalloid found in all environmental media. Its presence at elevated concentrations in soils derives from both anthropogenic and natural inputs. Arsenic is a toxic and carcinogenic element, which has caused severe environmental and health problem worldwide. Technologies currently available for the remediation of arsenic-contaminated sites are expensive, environmentally disruptive, and potentially hazardous to workers. Phytoextraction, a strategy of phytoremediation, uses plants to clean up contaminated soils and has been successfully applied to arsenic contaminated soils. It has the advantage of being cost-effective and environmentally friendly. A major step towards the development of phytoextraction of arsenic-impacted soils is the discovery of the arsenic hyper accumulation in ferns, first in Pteris vittata, which presented an extraordinary capacity to accumulate 2.3% arsenic in its biomass. Another fern, Pityrogramma calomelanos was found to exhibit the same hyperaccumulating characteristics. After that, screening experiments have revealed that the Pteris genus is really unique in that many species have the potential to be used in phytoextraction of arsenic. In general, these plants seem to have both constitutive and adaptive mechanisms for accumulating or tolerating high arsenic concentration. In the past few years, much work has been done to understand and improve the hyperaccumulating capability of these amazing plants. In particular, the field of molecular biology seems to hold the key for the future of the phytoremediation.
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