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Phytoremediation of Polluted Territories


Elaboration of the Effective Technology for the Phytoremediation of Radionuclide-Polluted Soils on the Basis of High Plant Symbiosis with Microorganisms

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-RED/Remediation and Decontamination/Environment
  • BIO-REM/Bioremediation/Biotechnology
  • BIO-RAD/Radiobiology/Biotechnology

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Kazakh National University / Scientific-Research Institute of Problems of Biology and Biotechnology, Kazakstan, Almaty

Supporting institutes

  • National Nuclear Center of the Republic of Kazakstan / Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kazakstan, Almaty


  • Colorado State University, USA, CO, Fort Collins

Project summary

The aim of project is elaboration of phytoremediation technology of soil at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test area polluted with radionuclides on the basis using plants, mycorrhiza-formed fungi and microbes which are representative of local flora and capable to accumulate of radionuclides at high rate.

Phytoremediation is a managed or spontaneous process that uses plants to remove, transfer, stabilize and destroy contaminants in soil and sediment and microbiological processes to influence condition of plants growth, adsorption of radionuclides by roots, to degrade or transform contaminants to less toxic and moving forms. It is known that succsessful function of plant root system depends on the intact of natural association: plants + macroarround including mycorhizal mushrooms, soil microorganisms and others.

The methods based on bioremediation has better perspectives among other known technology for soil cleaning because the known chemical and engeneering methods for the cleaning of the polluted soil are the low effectivity and very expensive. In connection with this such methods can be used at small territories only. The higher interest in this technology is accounted for the fact that large territories of agricultural and pastural fields of this region can not be used as of they were polluted with radionuclides and moreover are the source of secondary pollution and the plants which are capable to accumulate radionuclide may be used at large territories. US AEC estimated that the cost for phytoremediation of one acre of lead-contaminated soil to a depth of 50 cm was $60,000 to $100,000, whereas excavating and landfilling the same soil volume was $400,000 to $1,700,000 (Boyajian, G.E. and Devejian, D.L., 1997. "Phytoremediation: In Grows on You", Soil & Groundwater Cleanup, February/march, pp. 22-26).

The disadvantage of the phytoremediation are climatic or hydrologic conditions (e.g., flooding, drought) which may restrict the rate growth of types of plant that can be utilized contamines. Due to the fact that our project proposes to use types of plants-hyperaccumulators of radionuclides which grow on testing territory, this limitation is taken off. The peculiarity of present project are use soil’s microorganisms and micorhizal and endomicorhizal fungi as hyperaccumulators of radionuclides. They join to symbiotic relations with high plants, increase absorbtion of radionuclides by roots, convert unsoluble compounds of soil into soluble, supply the plants with added source of nutrient and etc. (McDonald J.D. The Soil Environment. In: Epidemiology and Management at Root Deseases, 1994). Thus the use of specific and non-specific symbionts of plants allows to increase effectivity of extraction of radionuclides from soil by plants.

In connection with the above-mentioned it is planned to isolate and investigate microorganisms - hyperaccumulators of radionuclides, azotfixated and acidulant species of microorganisms which promote added extraction of radionuclide by means of increasing mobility these compounds. Such complex investigation allows the elaboration of effective technology of phytoremediation of radionuclide polluted soils.

The significance of project consist in the possibility of considerable lowering of the content of technogenic radionuclides in the environment of polluted area where nuclear explosition were carried out. The theoretical basis of the use of this method gives the possibility to employ it in other regions.

The elaboration of technology for the peelings of ground from radionuclides for countries, pushed with similar problems, are live issue.

It is necessary co-operation with foreign partners for performance the tasks of Project:

- for the exchange by information on technologies, which are known or developed;
- the assistance in selecting a necessary equipment;
- an undertaking the parallel studies with the following publication and registration of patents;
- the discussion and the analysis of tinning results on seminars and working counsels;
- help in commercialisation of results and advancement on the market.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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