Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Bioproducts Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #388338

Research Project: Bioproducts and Biopolymers from Agricultural Feedstocks

Location: Bioproducts Research

Title: Potential of industrial hemp for phytoremediation of heavy metals

item PLACIDO, DANTE - Former ARS Employee
item Lee, Charles

Submitted to: Plants
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/15/2022
Publication Date: 2/23/2022
Citation: Placido, D., Lee, C.C. 2022. Potential of industrial hemp for phytoremediation of heavy metals. Plants. 11(5). Article 595.

Interpretive Summary: As our economic activities continue to release heavy metals into the environment, more arable land will be threatened even as the growing population increases the demand for food. There is an urgent need for economical and sustainable soil remediation strategies. Phytoremediation is a promising technique that has been demonstrated to remove heavy metals from polluted lands. Industrial hemp is an excellent candidate for phytoremediation due to its deep root system, tolerance to heavy metal accumulation, ample quantity of above-ground biomass, and multiple avenues for commercialization. The recent availability of the genome sequence as well as several powerful genetic engineering tools greatly increase the potential for bioengineering this plant to further improve its phytoremediation abilities.

Technical Abstract: The accumulation of anthropogenic heavy metals in soil is a major form of pollution. These toxic elements are nonbiodegradable and therefore persist for many years as threats to human and environmental health. Traditional forms of remediation are costly and potentially damaging to the land. An alternative strategy is phytoremediation in which plants are used to capture the heavy metal from the environment. Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa) is a promising candidate for phytoremediation. Hemp has deep roots and has been shown to be tolerant to the accumulation of different heavy metals. In addition, the crop biomass has many potential commercial uses after harvest. Furthermore, the recent availability of an annotated genome sequence provides a powerful tool to bioengineer C. sativa for better phytoremediation.