As sessile organisms, plants must cope with their environment by developing adaptations to hostile soils. The ability of plants to adsorb metal nutrients has evolved to the extreme of hyper-accumulation. Hyper-accumulating plants have developed a system that enables the accumulation of large quantities of heavy metals in the aerial part, without showing signs of toxicity. The genetics underlying this phenomenon has been extensively studied and researchers have begun to apply this knowledge for two major technologies. The first is collectively known as phytoremediation, i.e. the utilization of plants (and the associated rhizosphere) to remove metal pollutants from contaminated soils and waters. The second is for biofortification, i.e. the process aimed at increasing the nutritional quality of food by increasing the content of an essential micronutrient (mainly trace elements and vitamins).
The scope of this special issue is to collect up-to-date research papers, reviews or commentary on recent advances in the fields of biofortification and phytoremediation. This includes both traditional breeding techniques or the new and more focused breeding techniques, also referred to as technologies of assisted evolution (i.e. genome editing).
Dr. Giovanni DalCorso