Ural Federal University: Iset River Can Be Cleaned Of Heavy Metals With Plants And Bacteria

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Polluted rivers, such as the Iset River, can be cleaned by plants capable of accumulating dangerous toxicants such as heavy metals in their roots and leaves. Such biotechnology for purification is easy to implement and does not require large expenditures. Now biologists of the Ural Federal University are searching for water plants which could survive in the Ural weather conditions and at the same time effectively cope with the purification of water resources. Irina Kiseleva, Head of the Department of Experimental Biology and Biotechnologies of UrFU, told about it on the air of Radio “Komsomolskaya Pravda”.

“We need a comprehensive approach to the purification of rivers, because in addition to heavy metals there are a number of other organic and inorganic toxic substances. However, with the help of plants we can facilitate this process several times over. In the Ural Region, there are several species of coastal plants that are able to accumulate heavy metals in their leaves. For example, common cattail (sometimes called bulrush) or in warm countries water hyacinth. Yet cattail, which is more accustomed to our climate, purifies water much less effectively than water hyacinth, which, of course, will freeze in the first winter. Therefore, at the university we are working to find local flora plants that can clean the rivers and still survive for several seasons in our climate,” says Irina Kiseleva.

Plants will be able to completely clean a polluted water body in a few steps. Scientists are also creating fertilizers based on beneficial bacteria to help them survive in harsh conditions. They strengthen their root systems, enhance the extraction of nutrients from polluted environments, and improve plant growth.

“Now the most common way to clean up land and water bodies is to use recultivation technology. However, recultivation does not clean the soil of harmful substances. That is why we are striving to create and disseminate technologies for soil remediation, i.e., soil recovery. The use of plants and bacteria allows us to extract or degrade toxic pollutants, thereby improving the soil for future use. Now we are on our way to creating a biofertilizer, which we hope we will be able to put into large production,” adds Irina Kiseleva.

Ecological biotechnology assumes that plants fight pollution throughout their life cycle. The plant biomass must then be disposed of in a special way: the withered plants are extracted from the water body or from the terrestrial area, burned to ash, which can then be buried or recycled.

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