Biosurfactant-assisted phytoremediation of potentially toxic elements in soil: Green technology for meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Songita SONOWAL, Amy R. NAVA, Sanket J. JOSHI, Siddhartha Narayan BORAH, Nazim F. ISLAM, Soumya PANDIT, Ram PRASAD, Hemen SARMA*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Biosurfactants are biomolecules produced by microorganisms, low in toxicity, biodegradable, and relatively easy to synthesize using renewable waste substrates. Biosurfactants are of great importance with a wide and versatile range of applications, including the bioremediation of contaminated sites. Plants may accumulate soil potentially toxic elements (PTEs), and the accumulation efficacy may be further enhanced by the biosurfactants produced by rhizospheric microorganisms. Occasionally, the growth of bacteria slows down in adverse conditions, such as highly contaminated soils with PTEs. In this context, the plant's phytoextraction capacity could be improved by the addition of metal-tolerant bacteria that produce biosurfactants. Several sources, categories, and bioavailability of PTEs in soil are reported in this article, with the focus on the cost-effective and sustainable soil remediation technologies, where biosurfactants are used as a remediation method. How rhizobacterial biosurfactants can improve PTE recovery capabilities of plants is discussed, and the molecular mechanisms in bacterial genomes that support the production of important biosurfactants are listed. The status and cost of commercial biosurfactant production in the international market are also presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-210
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • bacterial genome
  • metal-tolerant bacteria
  • phytoextraction technology
  • plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria
  • rhizospheric microorganism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science

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