Plant Contamination by Organic Pollutants in Phytoremediation Academic Article uri icon


  • Phytoremediation is a remediation technique that involves plant uptake, transformation, accumulation, and/or volatilization of soil- and aqueous-phase contaminants or by the stimulation of microbial cometabolic activity in the rhizosphere of the plant. Even when the principal mechanism is by stimulation of bacteria, any resultant plant contamination cannot be overlooked. For the purpose of modeling, a two-compartment plant model has been developed. The model divides the plant into the shoot compartment (which can be harvested) and the root compartment (into which contaminants can accumulate). Numerical experiments were conducted to investigate model behavior and to determine important parameters affecting plant contamination. Johnsongrass [Sorghum halepense (L.) Pers.] was used to evaluate the model behavior. The contaminants TNT (2,4,6,-trinitrotoluene) and chrysene were selected on the basis of their contrasting aqueous-phase solubilities. The results indicate that plant contamination and soil remediation by plants depend on soil properties such as soil organic carbon content, the physicochemical properties of the contaminants such as the octanol-water partition coefficient, and plant properties. The most important factor affecting plant contamination is bioavailability. As bioavailability increased, the concentrations in root and shoot compartments were predicted to increase. Microbial activities and plant contamination are closely related, which suggests that plants and microorganisms can have complementary roles in phytoremediation.

author list (cited authors)

  • Sung, K., Corapcioglu, M. Y., Drew, M. C., & Munster, C. L.

citation count

  • 42

complete list of authors

  • Sung, K||Yavuz Corapcioglu, M||Drew, MC||Munster, CL

publication date

  • November 2001