Can stress enhance phytoremediation of polychlorinated biphenyls?

Tomasz Kalinowski, Rolf Halden

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Phytoremediation-plant-facilitated remediation of polluted soil and groundwater-is a potentially effective treatment technology for the remediation of heavy metals and certain organic compounds. However, contaminant attenuation rates are often not rapid enough to make phytoremediation a viable option when compared with alternative treatment approaches. Different strategies are being employed to enhance the efficacy of phytoremediation, including modification to the plant genome, inoculation of the rhizosphere with specialized and/or engineered bacteria, and treatment of the soil with supplementary chemicals, such as surfactants, chelators, or fertilizers. Despite these efforts, greater breakthroughs are necessary to make phytoremediation a viable technology. Here, we introduce and discuss the concept of integrating controlled environmental stresses as a strategy for enhancing phytoremediation. Plants have a diverse suite of defense mechanisms that are only induced in response to stress. Here, we examine some stress-response mechanisms in plants, focusing on defenses involving physiological changes that alter the soil microenvironment (rhizosphere), and outline how these defense mechanisms can be co-opted to enhance the effectiveness of phytoremediation of polychlorinated biphenyls and other contaminants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1047-1052
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Engineering Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012


  • PCB
  • inducible defense mechanisms
  • phytoremediation
  • rhizodegradation
  • root exudates
  • stress response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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