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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2012, Article ID 173829, 10 pages
Review Article

A Critical View of Current State of Phytotechnologies to Remediate Soils: Still a Promising Tool?

1Departamento de Ciencia y Tecnología Agraria, Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena, Paseo Alfonso XIII, 48-30203 Cartagena, Spain
2Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich), Universitaestrasse 16, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland
3Agriculture and Life Sciences, Lincoln University, Lincoln, Canterbury 7647, New Zealand

Received 7 October 2011; Accepted 2 November 2011

Academic Editors: R. Clemente and J. Ruelas-Inzunza

Copyright © 2012 Héctor M. Conesa et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Phytotechnologies are often shown as an emerging tool to remediate contaminated soils. Research in this field has resulted in many important findings relating to plant and soil sciences. However, there have been scant private and public investments and little commercial success with this technology. Here, we investigate the barriers to the adoption of phytotechnologies and determine whether it is still a fertile area for future research. The terminology used in phytotechnologies includes a confusing mish-mash of terms relating to concepts and processes increasing the difficulty of developing a unique commercial image. We argue that the commercial success of phytotechnologies depends on the generation of valuable biomass on contaminated land, rather than a pure remediation technique that may not compare favourably with the costs of inaction or alternative technologies. Valuable biomass includes timber, bioenergy, feedstock for pyrolosis, biofortified products, or ecologically important species.