Research Topic

Biotechnological Advances in Bioremediation of Heavy Metal Polluted Soils

About this Research Topic

The potential of plants to absorb, translocate or transform, and accumulate heavy metals as well as their biology characteristics make them one of the perfect choices for heavy metal remediation. However, it is important to discover some strengthening measures for phytoremediation, considering its limits of tolerance to heavy metals for practical applications.

With the development of natural resources and technologies, microbial regulation makes phytoremediation more viable and more valuable for present utilization. Reviewing emerging microbial technology in recent years, plant growth promoting microorganisms (PGPM), such as plant growth promoting bacteria (PGPB) and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) have been applied as environmentally friendly alternatives to synthetic chelators (e.g. citric acid and oxalic acids) that are usually phytotoxic and play a significant role in accelerating phytoremediation process, due to their abilities to alleviate heavy metal phytotoxicity (e.g. induction of molecular signaling network in plant-microbe interaction, biosorption and bioaccumulation), to promote plant growth directly (e.g. production of phytohormones, 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid deaminase and siderophores, solubilization of insoluble mineral nutrients) or indirectly (e.g. induction of systemic resistance and biological control) and to influence the migration capacity of metals (e.g. metal immobilizing extracellular polymeric substances, and metal mobilizing organic acids and biosurfactants). ¨

In general, bioremediation, particularly microbe-assisted phytoremediation has high public acceptance and can be carried out in various environmental media for a wide variety of inorganic compounds.

However, bioremediation research and practice are currently still hampered by an incomplete understanding of the genetics and genome-level characteristics of the microorganisms used, the metabolic pathways involved, and their kinetics.

Therefore, developing technologies for exploring microbial microenvironments and understanding the mechanisms driving microbial activity and metal metabolic pathways (e.g. redistribution, detoxification, mobilization/immobilization, translocation, transformation, biosorption, and bioaccumulation) under diverse climatic and edaphic conditions need to be further elucidated before successful and better-controlled site-specific treatments can occur.

The present Research Topic will focus on different areas including, but not limited to:

- Understanding the molecular basis of PGPM to enhance the growth and resistance of remediating plants against environmental stresses (e.g. heavy metal, drought, and salinity) and to change metal accumulation potential using multi-omics approaches encompassing metagenomics (microbial potential), proteomics (microbial function) and metabolomics (microbial activity) studies on specific plant-microbe-metal system
- The mechanism underlying plant-microbe-metal interactions under stressful environmental conditions
- The identification/characterization of functional genes of PGPM for growth enhancement and metal metabolism
- Assessing the potential applications of microbial biotechnology with new microbial resources (e.g. PGPB and AMF) in metal decontamination at the field under diverse climatic and edaphic conditions
- The pivotal factors to determine metal tolerance or accumulation ability of plants considering the role of a specific transporter varies among plant species and their association with PGPM
- The use of detection techniques and molecular tools for monitoring the fate, survival and colonization pattern, activity and ecological behavior of PGPM inoculants including their survival dynamics and the interaction with indigenous microorganisms in the rhizosphere
- The metal transporters involved in metal transport within plant tissues and how they manipulate metal uptake and translocation or transformation in the presence of PGPM
- The optimization of techniques and the exploration of commercial production of bioinoculants for use in decontamination of large scale metal polluted fields

This Research Topic welcomes contributions dissecting the environmental biotechnologies (e.g. microbe-assisted phytoremediation and bioremediation) and the roles of PGPM in metal decontamination with an emphasis on the mechanisms underlying plant-microbe-metal interactions in the rhizosphere.

We encourage the submission of manuscripts focusing on recent microbial biotechnological advances from the gene (e.g. functional genomics that describe gene functions and interactions) to the field (e.g. application of PGPM in large scale polluted fields), and their fundamental biological basis (e.g. plant-microbe-metal interactions) by using molecular, biochemical, and genetic approaches. The Research Topic no longer considers descriptive manuscripts that simply report responses (morphological, developmental, or physiological) without addressing a clear hypothesis and providing some mechanistic explanations of the observed phenomenon.

The following article types are particularly welcomed: Original Research, Reviews, and Opinions.


Keywords: Plant growth promoting microorganisms, Behavior of inoculated microorganisms, Microbial colonization pattern, Metal metabolic pathways, Metal toxic alleviation, Metal bioavailability, Multi-omics approaches, Bioremediation, Heavy metal contaminated soils


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The potential of plants to absorb, translocate or transform, and accumulate heavy metals as well as their biology characteristics make them one of the perfect choices for heavy metal remediation. However, it is important to discover some strengthening measures for phytoremediation, considering its limits of tolerance to heavy metals for practical applications.

With the development of natural resources and technologies, microbial regulation makes phytoremediation more viable and more valuable for present utilization. Reviewing emerging microbial technology in recent years, plant growth promoting microorganisms (PGPM), such as plant growth promoting bacteria (PGPB) and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) have been applied as environmentally friendly alternatives to synthetic chelators (e.g. citric acid and oxalic acids) that are usually phytotoxic and play a significant role in accelerating phytoremediation process, due to their abilities to alleviate heavy metal phytotoxicity (e.g. induction of molecular signaling network in plant-microbe interaction, biosorption and bioaccumulation), to promote plant growth directly (e.g. production of phytohormones, 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid deaminase and siderophores, solubilization of insoluble mineral nutrients) or indirectly (e.g. induction of systemic resistance and biological control) and to influence the migration capacity of metals (e.g. metal immobilizing extracellular polymeric substances, and metal mobilizing organic acids and biosurfactants). ¨

In general, bioremediation, particularly microbe-assisted phytoremediation has high public acceptance and can be carried out in various environmental media for a wide variety of inorganic compounds.

However, bioremediation research and practice are currently still hampered by an incomplete understanding of the genetics and genome-level characteristics of the microorganisms used, the metabolic pathways involved, and their kinetics.

Therefore, developing technologies for exploring microbial microenvironments and understanding the mechanisms driving microbial activity and metal metabolic pathways (e.g. redistribution, detoxification, mobilization/immobilization, translocation, transformation, biosorption, and bioaccumulation) under diverse climatic and edaphic conditions need to be further elucidated before successful and better-controlled site-specific treatments can occur.

The present Research Topic will focus on different areas including, but not limited to:

- Understanding the molecular basis of PGPM to enhance the growth and resistance of remediating plants against environmental stresses (e.g. heavy metal, drought, and salinity) and to change metal accumulation potential using multi-omics approaches encompassing metagenomics (microbial potential), proteomics (microbial function) and metabolomics (microbial activity) studies on specific plant-microbe-metal system
- The mechanism underlying plant-microbe-metal interactions under stressful environmental conditions
- The identification/characterization of functional genes of PGPM for growth enhancement and metal metabolism
- Assessing the potential applications of microbial biotechnology with new microbial resources (e.g. PGPB and AMF) in metal decontamination at the field under diverse climatic and edaphic conditions
- The pivotal factors to determine metal tolerance or accumulation ability of plants considering the role of a specific transporter varies among plant species and their association with PGPM
- The use of detection techniques and molecular tools for monitoring the fate, survival and colonization pattern, activity and ecological behavior of PGPM inoculants including their survival dynamics and the interaction with indigenous microorganisms in the rhizosphere
- The metal transporters involved in metal transport within plant tissues and how they manipulate metal uptake and translocation or transformation in the presence of PGPM
- The optimization of techniques and the exploration of commercial production of bioinoculants for use in decontamination of large scale metal polluted fields

This Research Topic welcomes contributions dissecting the environmental biotechnologies (e.g. microbe-assisted phytoremediation and bioremediation) and the roles of PGPM in metal decontamination with an emphasis on the mechanisms underlying plant-microbe-metal interactions in the rhizosphere.

We encourage the submission of manuscripts focusing on recent microbial biotechnological advances from the gene (e.g. functional genomics that describe gene functions and interactions) to the field (e.g. application of PGPM in large scale polluted fields), and their fundamental biological basis (e.g. plant-microbe-metal interactions) by using molecular, biochemical, and genetic approaches. The Research Topic no longer considers descriptive manuscripts that simply report responses (morphological, developmental, or physiological) without addressing a clear hypothesis and providing some mechanistic explanations of the observed phenomenon.

The following article types are particularly welcomed: Original Research, Reviews, and Opinions.


Keywords: Plant growth promoting microorganisms, Behavior of inoculated microorganisms, Microbial colonization pattern, Metal metabolic pathways, Metal toxic alleviation, Metal bioavailability, Multi-omics approaches, Bioremediation, Heavy metal contaminated soils


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

27 November 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

27 November 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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