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Rivista di Biologia Molecolare e Biotecnologie
Indexed/Abstracted in: EMBASE, Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch), Scopus
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BIOREMEDIATION - Part II
Minerva Biotecnologica 2001 June;13(2):135-40
Remediation of wetlands by Phragmites australis. The biological basis
Massacci A., Pietrini F., Iannelli M. A.
CNR, Istituto di Biochimica ed Ecofisiologia Vegetali, Monterotondo Scalo (Roma), Italy
Phragmites australis is a rhizomatous plant of the Poaceae family with the widest geographical distribution of any flowering plant. It often invades wetlands where with its vigorous propagation can outcompete rare plant communities. On the other hand, invasion by this species in water polluted habitats seems to be beneficial, and the decline of its population in some areas, such as the lake Trasimeno in Italy, is accompanied by enhanced water pollution. In fact, Phragmites can thrive in shallow and almost stagnant water, where few others species can survive, because its dense and vertically extended rhizome mat, anchored to the shore, takes up nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus). It has been hypothesised that this habit favours the degradation of some chemical compounds in the rhizome and the removal of heavy metals from the water. The capacity to oxygenate the rhizome is at the basis of these activities. Thus, Phragmites has features particularly relevant to its potential use to remediate the contamination of wetlands by agriculture run-off. Actually, it has been already included in constructed wetland to clean civil and industrial wastewater with a high load of organic pollutants. In this paper we will analyse and integrate with new results the current knowledge on the biological characteristics of this species. We will also analyse how it interacts with the environment.