Nanoparticle-assisted rhizoremediation for recovering soils contaminated with mixed contamination

  • Funding: MINECO (Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness) 
  • Leader: Carlos Garbisu 
  • Implementation: 2017-2019

Description: The abandonment of industrial activity has left behind it sites characterised by the presence of soils contaminated simultaneously with organic and inorganic compounds. This carries a potential risk to human health and ecosystems. Therefore, it is essential to deal with the recovery of these contaminated soils in order to reduce their toxicity and recover their intrinsic capacity to carry out their ecosystem functions and services. The main aim of the project is to evaluate the rhizoremediation potential of Brassica spp. plants (B. napus, B. carinata and B. juncea; species with a high heavy metal extraction capacity) together with micro-organisms from their rhizosphere for the remediation of soils with mixed contamination of polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb). The possible synergies between rhizoremediation and nanoremediation through the application of nanoparticles of zero valent iron will also be assessed. Starting from the native microbial populations of contaminated soil, the elimination of contaminants will be optimised through the use of biostimulant agents from the biomass and microbial activity, which enhance the increase in bioavailability of contaminants and their biological degradation. In addition, strategies based on the phytoextraction of heavy metals and rhizodegradation of organic contaminants will be combined in the remediation of a contaminated site on a field scale. The effectiveness of these technologies will be evaluated by monitoring (i) contaminant levels and (ii) the recovery of soil health, estimated from a set of microbial and plant bioindicators and biomarkers that provide information on the recovery of soil ecosystem processes, functions and services.


1.- Selection of plants and biostimulant agents for the rhizoremediation of soils with mixed contamination (PAHs, PCBs and heavy metals).

2.- Application of a rhizoremediation process with Brassica spp. and biostimulants for the recovery of soils with mixed contamination.

3.- Obtaining oil for use as biofuel.

4.- Comparison of the effectiveness of rhizoremediation, nanoremediation and nano-rhizoremediation for the recovery of soils with mixed contamination.

5.- Rhizoremediation and/or nano-rhizoremediation at a contaminated site on a field scale, to evaluate its capacity to decontaminate the soil and recover its health and ecosystem services.