Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) and Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) as Fibre Crops for Phytoextraction of Heavy Metals: Biological, Agro-technological and Economical Point of View

Fibre crops are world-wide distributed group of plant species belonging taxonomically to various plant families. The common denominator is their use of above-ground biomass for mainly industrial (non-food) or energy purposes. They include approximately 2,000 species—annual and perennial—belonging to monocotyledonous as well as dicotyledonous plants. About 20 species have got an economical (some of them local) importance. Majority of fibre species is grown in tropical and subtropical zones. Cellulose, a natural polymer with high strength and stiffness per weight, is the building material of long fibrous cells, which can be found in the stems, the leaves or the fruits/seeds of fibre plants. Thus, based on the fibrous cells localisation within the plant, we can recognise bast fibre species (e.g. flax, hemp, jute, kenaf, ramie and sida), leaf fibre species (sisal, banana and palm) and fruit/seed fibre species (cotton, coconut, kapok and luffa). During last 20 years, the fibre crops have been also considered as potential candidates for phytoremediation, particularly for phytoextraction of heavy metals from contaminated soils. Within fibre crops of temperate and subtropical zone, flax/linseed and hemp represent economically the most important species and also the majority of heavy metal-related experimental data were obtained and published in these two fibre crops. Here we bring information on biological potential of flax and hemp for heavy metal phytoextraction, the possibilities of agrotechnological treatments to affect/improve heavy metal uptake and, finally, the economical assessment of phytoremediation technology for flax and hemp growers and phytoremediation operators.

Plant-Based Remediation Processes

Volume 35 of the series Soil Biology pp 199-237. Print ISBN 978-3-642-35563-9; Online ISBN 978-3-642-35564-6

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