Plant response to heavy metals and organic pollutants in cell culture and at whole plant level

Avi Golan-Goldhirsh, Oz Barazani, Ales Nepovim, Petr Soudek, Stanislav Smrcek, Lenka Dufkova, Sarka Krenkova, Kim Yrjala, Peter Schröder, Tomas Vanek

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    1 Scopus citations


    Background: Increasing awareness in the last decade concerning environmental quality had prompted research into ‘green solutions’ for soil and water remediation, progressing from laboratoryin vitro experiments to pot and field trials. In vitro cell culture experiments provide a convenient system to study basic biological processes, by which biochemical pathways, enzymatic activity and metabolites can be specifically studied. However, it is difficult to relate cell cultures, calli or even hydroponic experiments to the whole plant response to pollutant stress. In the field, plants are exposed to additional a-biotic and biotic factors, which complicate further plant response. Hence, we often see thatin vitro selected species perform poorly under soil and field conditions. Soil physical and chemical properties, plantmycorrhizal association and soil-microbial activity affect the process of contaminant degradation by plants and/or microorganisms, pointing to the importance of pot and field experiments. Objective: This paper is a joint effort of a group of scientists in COST action 837. It represents experimental work and an overview on plant response to environmental stress fromin vitro tissue culture to whole plant experiments in soil. Results: Results obtained fromin vitro plant tissue cultures and whole plant hydroponic experiments indicate the phytoremediation potential of different plant species and the biochemical mechanisms involved in plant tolerance. In pot experiments, several selected desert plant species, which accumulated heavy metal in hydroponic systems, succeeded in accumulating the heavy metal in soil conditions as well. Conclusions and Recommendations: In vitro plant tissue cultures provide a useful experimental system for the study of the mechanisms involved in the detoxification of organic and heavy metal pollutants. However, whole plant experimental systems, as well as hydroponics followed by pot and field trials, are essential when determining plant potential to remediate polluted sites. Multidisciplinary research teams can therefore increase our knowledge and promote a practical application of phytoremediation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)133-140
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Soils and Sediments
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 1 Jun 2004


    • Detoxification
    • heavy metals
    • phytoremediation
    • soil
    • tissue culture
    • xenobiotics

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Earth-Surface Processes
    • Stratigraphy


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