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Biotechnol Adv. 2003 Dec;22(1-2):93-117.

Effects of plants and microorganisms in constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment.

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UFZ Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig-Halle, Germany.


Constructed wetlands are a natural alternative to technical methods of wastewater treatment. However, our understanding of the complex processes caused by the plants, microorganisms, soil matrix and substances in the wastewater, and how they all interact with each other, is still rather incomplete. In this article, a closer look will be taken at the mechanisms of both plants in constructed wetlands and the microorganisms in the root zone which come into play when they remove contaminants from wastewater. The supply of oxygen plays a crucial role in the activity and type of metabolism performed by microorganisms in the root zone. Plants' involvement in the input of oxygen into the root zone, in the uptake of nutrients and in the direct degradation of pollutants as well as the role of microorganisms are all examined in more detail. The ways in which these processes act to treat wastewater are dealt with in the following order: Technological aspects; The effect of root growth on the soil matrix; Gas transport in helophytes and the release of oxygen into the rhizosphere; The uptake of inorganic compounds by plants; The uptake of organic pollutants by plants and their metabolism; The release of carbon compounds by plants; Factors affecting the elimination of pathogenic germs.

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