Toxic metal pollution of waters and soils is a major environmental problem, and most conventional remediation approaches do not provide acceptable solutions. The use of specially selected and engineered metal-accumulating plants for environmental clean-up is an emerging technology called phytoremediation. Three subsets of this technology are applicable to toxic metal remediation: (1) Phytoextraction-the use of metal-accumulating plants to remove toxic metals from soil; (2) Rhizofiltration-the use of plant roots to remove toxic metals from polluted waters; and (3) Phytostabilization-the use of plants to eliminate the bioavailability of toxic metals in soils. Biological mechanisms of toxic metal uptake, translocation and resistance as well as strategies for improving phytoremediation are also discussed.
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