Utilising the synergy between Plants and Rhizosphere Microorganisms Microbes to Enhance Breakdown of Organic Pollutants in the Environment

Q. Chaudhry, M. Blom, S. Gupta, E. Jonker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    299 Citations (Scopus)


    Background. Phytoremediation is a promising technology for the cleanup of polluted environments. The technology has so far been used mainly to remove toxic heavy metals from contaminated soil, but there is a growing interest in broadening its applications to remove/degrade organic pollutants in the environment. Both plants and soil microorganisms have certain limitations with respect to their individual abilities to remove/breakdown organic compounds. A synergistic action by both rhizosphere microorganisms that leads to increased availability of hydrophobic compounds, and plants that leads to their removal and/or degradation, may overcome many of the limitations, and thus provide a useful basis for enhancing remediation of contaminated environments. Main Features. The review of literature presented in this article provides an insight to the nature of plant-microbial interactions in the rhizosphere, with a focus on those processes that are relevant to the breakdown and/or removal of organic pollutants. Due consideration has been given to identify opportunities for utilising the plant-microbial synergy in the rhizosphere to enhance remediation of contaminated environments. Results and Discussion. The literature review has highlighted the existence of a synergistic interaction between plants and microbial communities in the rhizosphere. This interaction benefits both microorganisms through provision of nutrients by root exudates, and plants through enhanced nutrient uptake and reduced toxicity of soil contaminants. The ability of the plant-microbial interaction to tackle some of the most recalcitrant organic chemicals is of particular interest with regard to enhancing and extending the scope of remediation technologies. Conclusions. Plant-microbial interactions in the rhizosphere offer very useful means for remediating environments contaminated with recalcitrant organic compounds. Outlook. A better knowledge of plant-microbial interactions will provide a basis for improving the efficacy of biological remediations. Further research is, however, needed to investigate different feedback mechanisms that select and regulate microbial activity in the rhizosphere.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)34-48
    JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


    • polycyclic aromatic-hydrocarbons
    • microbial community composition
    • petroleum-contaminated soils
    • s-transferase activity
    • hybrid poplar trees
    • degrading bacteria
    • transgenic plants
    • polyaromatic hydrocarbons
    • polychlorinated-biphenyls
    • mycorrhizal fungus

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