Growth, physiological and molecular traits in Salicaceae trees investigated for phytoremediation of heavy metals and organics

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Worldwide, there are many large areas moderately contaminated with heavy metals and/or organics that have not been remediated due to the high cost and technical drawbacks of currently available technologies. Methods with a good potential for coping with these limitations are emerging from phytoremediation techniques, using, for example, specific amendments and/or plants selected from various candidates proven in several investigations to be reasonably efficient in extracting heavy metals from soil or water, or in co-metabolizing organics with bacteria flourishing or inoculated in their rhizospheres. Populus and Salix spp., two genera belonging to the Salicaceae family, include genotypes that can be considered among the candidates for this phytoremediation approach. This review shows the recent improvements in analytical tools based on the identification of useful genetic diversity associated with classical growth, physiological and biochemical traits, and the importance of plant genotype selection for enhancing phytoremediation efficiency. Particularly interesting are studies on the application of the phytoremediation of heavy metals and of chlorinated organics, in which microorganisms selected for their degradation capabilities were bioaugmented in the rhizosphere of Salicaceae planted at a high density for biomass and bioenergy production.

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