Petroleum releases an odor that is special to its toxic make up. If you put this fossil fuel in a Petri dish with mushrooms, somehow the smell disappears. Mohamed Hijri, who is a professor and researcher at the University of Montreal’s Institut de recherche en biologie végétale (IRBV), is leading a project with B.
Franz. They are observing bacteria to further the growth of specific plants and microscopic mushrooms. Their project starts off by planting willow cuttings with degrading contaminants as well as bacteria in the soil. After the willows have done their job, they burn them. The residue is a few ashes that contain all the heavy metals collected in the plants.
It only takes a few cycles to clean the densely polluted soil. The researchers also collected microorganisms that decompose fossil fuels. They believe that separating species that are most efficient, they can speed the process of phytoremediation. The project, Improving Bioremediation of Polluted Soils Through Environmental Genetics, is a thorough project with 16 researchers, fieldwork, sampling, and DNA sequencing of the plants (Hijri, 2011). Other researchers, like Villa of the University of Eastern Finland seem to agree that willow trees are inexpensive and efficient way to purify soil. They can grow in acidic and metal laden soil, which is great for phytoremediation. Many plants cannot even survive in contaminated soil.
Some willow tree species are even more efficient than others. Salix schwerinii proved to be the best survivor, while a hybrid willow species was able to produce more wood ash than the others (ash and side products from the trees lowers the acidity of the soil) (Villa, 2014). Phytoremediation in the future will try to improve the speed and efficiency of plants to clean contaminated sites, through genetic engineering or breeding. Some of the ways to improve may be root depth, root spread, and accumulation. More companies are investing in phytoremediation research as interest grows in this easy, practical, and environmentally friendly approach to the remediation of poisoned soil.