Gateway for:

Member Countries

Phytoremediation of Soil Polluted by Oil Products


Development of Technology for Accelerated «in situ» Phytoremediation of Soil Polluted by Oil Products and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-RED/Remediation and Decontamination/Environment
  • BIO-REM/Bioremediation/Biotechnology
  • BIO-MIB/Microbiology/Biotechnology

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Research Center of Toxicology and Hygienic Regulation of Biopreparations, Russia, Moscow reg., Serpukhov

Supporting institutes

  • Institute of Biochemistry and Physiology of Plants and Microorganisms, Russia, Saratov reg., Saratov


  • Umveltforschungszentrum Leipzig-Halle GmbH, Germany, Leipzig

Project summary

The goal of the project is to develop technology for accelerated phytoremediation of soils contaminated by oil products and PAH with the use of plants and plant-associated microorganisms-degraders’ communities.

Started in the middle of last century man-caused pollution of the environment has developed into global pollution and is becoming worse in XXI century with the increase of mass production and consumption of petrochemical products. Petroleum industry tops the list of main industries polluting the environment by polycyclic hydrocarbons (by-product-coking industry, fossil fuel firing installations - heat-electric generating plants, hydroelectric power plants, boiler plants, ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, construction materials production, pulp and paper industry, chemical, petrochemical and fuel industries, transport, community facilities and agriculture). The area around nearly every petroleum station, fuel station or oil-processing industrial enterprise is polluted by PAH. The same situation is observed at highways and railways. The polluted areas can be vast, which complicates conventional reclamation. In the result of annual “natural escape” and oil spill at oil pipelines and oilfields 5 - 10% of produced oil gets into the environment, which makes up to 1.7-8.8 million tons.

Among oil hydrocarbons polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are most hazardous as persistent pollutants characterized with high toxicity and stability for degradation. These substances are characterized by bioaccumulation, transboundary transportation by air and water, precipitation at a large distance from emission source and accumulation in water and ground eco-systems.

Phytoremediation – effective and profitable technology based on using plants and plant-associated microorganisms-degraders – is currently widely used for treatment of soil contaminated by various pollutants. Due to mutually beneficial coexistence vegetative-microbe associations (symbioses) are more likely to survive in severe environment.

Selection of the most suitable plant species is an important stage of phytoremediation technology development and so far no standard approach has been adopted. Selection of a plant species is often based on its ability of growth on polluted areas or just on seeds availability.

Xenobiotics degradation in soil could be enhanced not only by sowing of specially selected plant species but also by providing the conditions for their intensive growth and stimulating metabolic activity of rhizosphere microbial cenosis. The following conventional bioremediation techniques are employed for the purpose: agricultural soil treatment, mineral and organic fertilizing, introduction of biological and synthetic surfactants, agro waste, food and biochemical and other industries waste, various structures.

The project is devoted to the development of scientifically grounded efficient biotechnology for “in situ” remediation of the environment.

The project provides for using a systemic approach for development of the technology for accelerated phytoremediation based on a thorough scientific study and justification of each technology element.

First, the plant species perspective for phytoremediation will be selected according to the following criteria: ability to grow on soil polluted by oil products, i.å. resistant to pollutant toxic effect; results of phytotoxicity test (seed germination ability in contaminated environment); on the basis of root exudate analysis for basic components.

Strains-oil products degraders will be isolated from selected plants rhizosphere and tested for capability of producing IAA. Toxicological study of the promising strains for safety for warm-blooded animals will be carried out on laboratory animal models (white mice and rats).

The following stage of the research will be optimization of methods for phytoremediation intensification (with use of plants and microorganisms-degraders) by stimulants selection.

Further phytoremediation technology is planned to test in small-scale field experiments.

The work will conclude with field experiments for efficacy assessment of the developed technology for oil-products-contaminated soil phytoremediation, and its ecologic-and-toxicological testing.

Scientific and practical novelty of the project consists in formation of the bank of promising for phytoremediation and safe for the environment and humans plants and natural microorganism strains, stimulating plant growth and capable of effective oil products and PAH degradation, on the basis of multistage laboratory, field and toxicological studies. Along with use of highly-active vegetative-and-microbial associations, additional techniques for enhancement of their activity in situ will be developed.

The work will be conducted by joint efforts of SFES RCT&HRB of FMBA of RF and IBPPM RAS. The researchers-project participants are represented by microbiologists, biochemists, toxicologists, chemists, ecologists and biotechnologists experienced in designing ecologically safe bioremediation technologies for soil contaminated by toxic xenobiotics.

Research team of the IBPPM RAS, represented mainly by the members of Laboratory of the Environmental Biotechnology, includes microbiologists, biological chemists and biological technologists which have been doing research for 20 years in the field of ecological biotechnology, in particular, sewage processing and soil bioremediation. The technologies for local surfactant- and oil products-contaminated sewage purification have been developed. Technologies for oil- and oil slime-contaminated territories cleanup by methods of bioremediation and biocomposting have been developed and implemented in industrial production. For a number of technologies Russian patents were issued, strains-degraders were deposited at All-Russian Collection of Industrial Microorganisms. The researchers conducted the studies within the projects supported by grants of Mac Arthur Foundation (2000-2001), DAAD (2001, 2003-2004), The President of the Russian Federation (2003-2005), etc.

The museum of various microorganisms-toxicants degraders is available at the RCT&HRB of FMBA of RF; the techniques for testing isolated natural microorganisms for safety for warm blooded animals with use of laboratory animals have been modified. Methods for soil biotesting for integral toxicity have been developed. Specialists for Ecological Toxicology Division conducted research on the ISTC ##228, 2093, 1429, 1892 and 1893 Projects dealing with development of bioremediation technologies for soils contaminated by PAH, surfactants, organophosphorus compounds, products of mustard gas primary degradation and trinitrotoluene. Promising microorganisms-degraders are deposited at All-Russian Collection of Industrial Microorganisms (ARCIM) International Section. International ÐÑÒ applications for patent have been prepared for a number of microorganisms-degraders and Russian and US patents are received. Currently the developments are introduced in The Russian Federation and the USA.

Since all the key project participants from RCT&HRB of FMBA of RF are involved in the development of protective means against biological weapon, the project fully agrees with the purposes and tasks of the ISTC. The project will facilitate re-orientation of the Russian scientists’ activities to the development of technology for the environment protection and their integration into the international scientific community.


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.

Promotional Material

Значимы проект

See ISTC's new Promotional video view