Water Purification by Plants or Phytoremediation: Research by ISU Scientists in this Area Continues
31 March 2022

The first phase of the project has been completed, and the preliminary results have allowed to select the plants that are most effective for purifying aquatic environments from metals and phenols and promising to develop a purification technology.

Project leader, Head of the ISU Laboratory of Aquatic Toxicology at the Institute of Biology, Doctor of Sciences (Biology), Prof Davard Stom comments on:

Aquatic plants bind and accumulate various pollutants, including metals and phenols, in large amounts at a high rate. At the same time, if the plant biomass is further recycled, the accumulated metals can be easily extracted with cheap environmental technologies.

The complex interaction of metal ions and phenols among themselves and with plants, including in phytoremediation processes, has been studied extremely insufficiently. To fill the lack of research in this area was the main fundamental task of the project. The studies of the first phase were devoted to the study and comparison of the influence of metal cations, phenolic compounds on a number of test reactions of aquatic plants in water bodies of the Lake Baikal catchment area (in particular, the lake itself and the Angara River; the Mongolian colleagues - the Selenga River, as well as Lake Khubsugul).

Reactions of metal salts and phenols can significantly change the biological effects of their mixtures. Therefore, the experiments conducted show the necessity of taking into account the chemical processes occurring during the direct interaction of polyphenols and metals when monitoring aquatic environments containing these groups and predicting the ecological situation.

This project covers not only research the effect of mixtures of phenols and metals on physiological or biochemical parameters of aquatic plants, but also on processes of purification of polluted water by them. Moreover, the proposed technologies are quite cheap and highly eco-friendly.

Works on utilization of plant mass used in phytoremediation measures of water purification from metals and phenols, are also carried out. Approaches to recuperate (i.e. re-extraction, or recover) of metals from phytomass, worked off in the purification processes, are being developed as well.