The soil-plant system, as a key part of the environment, can play a crucial role for achieving one of the goals of the European Green Deal, “A zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment”. Soils are the basis of terrestrial ecosystems and a crossroad of biogeochemical cycles at the lithosphere-hydrosphere-biosphere-atmosphere interface. However, soils are a limited and fragile resource. Soil health and quality is crucial for food quality production as well as to contribute to boost biodiversity. Soil pollution is, together with other threats (e.g. soil erosion, soil compaction, loss of organic matter), one of the most important concerns contributing for soil degradation and biodiversity loss. Human activities are the sources of soil pollution, such as, the mismanagement of industrial agriculture and mining activities, sewage and waste disposal, contributing to increase the concentration of potentially toxic substances (metals/metalloids, radionuclides and organic compound) in the ecosystems.
Remediation techniques are considered as cost-effective and environmentally friendly technologies for the in situ restoration of the health and productive capacity of soils, mitigating environmental impacts of impaired soils, and last but not least, the recovery of raw materials. Phytoremediation that consider the soil-plant system and particularly the rhizosphere area and soil biota, are effective approaches towards the recovery of polluted soils. These recovery techniques should be introduced and encouraged as they are more environmentally friendly, sustainable and affordable.
Bioremediation and biomining techniques involve the i) extraction of inorganic pollutants or economically valuable elements from soils or technogenic substrates , ii) stabilization of potentially toxic elements in the root zone of plants as well as iii) the microbial degradation of organic pollutants. Optimization and establishment of these technologies requires a sound understanding of soil-associated factors and plant-associated factors as well as root-soil-microbial interactions in the rhizosphere of plants controlling the mobility and availability of the target compounds in soils.
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