Key Difference – Bioremediation vs Phytoremediation
Environmental pollution can be controlled by the use of biological organisms such as microorganisms, plants etc. They do have inherent capabilities of degradation or transformation of contaminants into non-hazardous substances. These natural capabilities are explored by humans to accelerate the cleanup processes. Bioremediation is the overall process developed by humans to clean the environment using biological organisms, especially microorganisms. Phytoremediation is a subcategory of bioremediation which only uses green plants to clean the environment. That is the key difference between bioremediation and phytoremediation.
What is Bioremediation?
Bioremediation is a method in which environmental pollution is controlled using biological systems. It is implemented by people to speed up the cleaning process without affecting the environment and the organisms. The main objective of the bioremediation is to convert toxic or hazardous substances in the environment into non-toxic or less hazardous substances by biological means. Microorganisms are the main concern when implementing these methods since they are easy to use and exhibit diverse reactions. Bioremediation is used to treat contaminated soils, lands, water etc. There are different strategies in bioremediation: use of genetically modified microorganisms, use of native microorganisms, phytoremediation, biostimulation, bioaugmentation etc.
What is Phytoremediation?
Plants have a remarkable ability to absorb chemicals from its growth matrix. Largely distributed root systems and transport tissues within the plants contribute in this scenario. Phytoremediation is a technology employed to remove contaminants in the environment by the use of green plants. With the help of plants, soils, sludges, sediments and water which were contaminated with organic and inorganic contaminants are cleaned in biological means in the phytoremediation. Therefore, phytoremediation is considered as an environmental friendly, nature-based method since it does not harm or add toxins to the environment. Plants involved in the remediation can be classified as follows.
- Phytodegradation (phytotransformation) – Breaking down of the contaminants absorbed by the plant within the plant tissues through metabolism.
- Phytostimulation or rhizodegradation – Degradation of the contaminants in the rhizosphere area of the plant by stimulating microbial biodegradation via the release root exudates such as sugars, alcohols, acids etc.
- Phytovolatilization – Plants uptake contaminants from the soil and release into the atmosphere in the modified forms through transpiration.
- Phytoextraction (phytoaccumulation) – Absorption of metals such as nickel, cadmium, chromium, lead etc. from the soil into the above ground plant tissues and dislocation them from the environment.
- Rhizofiltration – Adsorption of the contaminants into plant roots from the soil solution or ground water.
- Phytostabilization – Certain plants immobilise contaminants through absorption by roots, adsorption onto root surface and precipitation within the area of plant roots.
Plants are grown in the contaminated site for a particular time period. When plants are grown, they absorb nutrients together with the contaminants from the growth matrix of the plant. The root exudates of the plants enhance the microbial activity in the rhizosphere area and accelerate the biodegradation of the contaminants by the microorganisms. Both means facilitate the removal of the contaminants from the environment. At the end of the remediation process, the plants can be harvested from the site and processed.
Plants have an inherent ability to handle accumulated pollutants in the environment. Different plant varieties show different absorption and degradation potentials. Some plants are capable of absorbing heavy metals from the soil and it is an immense use in heavy metal removal from the environment. Phytoremediation is a popular method in cleaning pesticide contaminations, crude oil contaminations, polyaromatic hydrocarbons contaminations and solvent contaminations. This technique is also applied to the river basin managements to control the contaminants in the river water.
What is the difference between Bioremediation and Phytoremediation?
Bioremediation vs Phytoremediation
|Bioremediation is the overall process of decontamination of the environment using biological agents including microorganisms and plants.||Phytoremediation is the process which uses only the green plants to decontaminate the environment.|
|There are two modes of bioremediation; in situ and ex situ bioremediation.||This is one mode of bioremediation called in situ bioremediation.|
|Bioremediation is primarily governed by the microorganisms||Phytoremediation is governed by the certain plant species.|
Summary – Bioremediation vs Phytoremediation
Bioremediation uses microorganisms and plants to break down pollutants into less harmful compounds. It is an eco-friendly process implemented by people to decontaminate the environment and reduce the threat. Phytoremediation is a type of bioremediation technique which uses green plants. Plants which are capable of transforming or degrading contaminants are used for cleaning the environment. It is an in situ bioremediation method which is cost effective and solar energy based technique. This is the difference between bioremediation and phytoremediation.
1. “What Is Phytoremediation.” What Is Phytoremediation. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2017.
2. “Phytoremediation Processes.” Phytoremediation Processes. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2017
3. Bioremediation: A Potential Tool for Restoration of Contaminated Areas – Microbial Biodegradation and Bioremediation – 1. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2017
1. “Mechanism of salt removal from tsunami affected soil by bioremediation” By M. Azizul Moqsud and K. Omine – (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Phytoremediation” by Daniela (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr