Interaction between phytoremediation and mineral nutrition in plants of agronomic interest

Globally, soils are contaminated as a result of civil, agricultural and industrial activities that also result in surface and groundwater contamination. Organic pollutants include aromatic solvents (benzenes, toluene, ethylbenzene and meta-xylene), organochlorines, carbamates, phenolic compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and furans, among others. Inorganic pollutants include copper (Cu), manganese (Mn), nickel (Ni), zinc (Zn), chromium (Cr), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb). Organic pollutants are commonly xenobiotic to organisms and introduced by humans through fuel spills, solvents, agrochemicals, and wood treatment, among other avenues. Inorganic pollutants are natural elements of the atmosphere or earth's crust, which become toxic to the environment at higher concentrations. These can be produced and released into the environment as a result of industrial activities, mining and agriculture. However, while they cannot be degraded, they can be phytoremediated through stabilisation or sequestration. Currently, several environmental remediation processes such as excavation, washing, the burning of soil, vitrification, solidification, among others, all use energy and chemicals, thus making them costly solutions. However, a cleaner, less invasive and less costly method can be used: phytoremediation. Thus, phytoremediation is defined as the use of plants and their associated microorganisms for the removal of environmental pollutants through the degradation and sequestration of these substances, or by making them less harmful to the environment using naturally occurring processes. Plants can directly degrade pollutants through their enzymatic pathways after absorbing the pollutants themselves. Some plants are called hyperaccumulators because they accumulate more inorganic elements (e.g. As, Co, Cu, Cr, Mn, Ni, Pb, Se and Zn) than other plants that grow under the same conditions (sometimes 100 times more). These elements are accumulated in the dry mass (0.1 to 1%), thereby showing the high potential for soil clearing when the correct species are chosen for use in phytoremediation. Notably, plants that are native to the region should first be considered. Plants have various morphophysiological responses to environmental contamination, with diverse metabolic reactions and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production that can cause damage at the cellular level. In many cases, little remains known about the biological mechanisms (biophysical and biochemical) involved in phytoremediation. However, to increase the efficiency of this process, it is necessary to know what biological mechanisms are involved. Given the aforementioned context, this experimental proposal currently includes scientific initiation projects that investigate the physiological and biochemical events of 'model plants' with or without agronomic interest based on the scientific hypothesis that the supply of heavy metals impairs plant growth.