Cerium oxide and neodymium oxide phytoextraction by ryegrass in bioenhanced hydroponic environments

Maedeh Soleimanifar, Lucia Rodriguez-Freire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sustainable technologies for the recovery of rare earth elements (REE) from waste need to be developed to decrease the volume of ore mining extractions and its negative environmental consequences, while simultaneously restoring previously impacted lands. This is critical due to the extensive application of REE in everyday life from electronic devices to energy and medical technologies, and the dispersed distribution of REE resources in the world. REE recovery by plants has been previously studied but the feasibility of REE phytoextraction from a poorly soluble solid phase (i.e., nanoparticles) by different plant species has been rarely investigated. In this study, the effect of biostimulation and bioaugmentation on phytorecovery of REE nanoparticles (REE-NP) was investigated by exposing ryegrass seeds to REE-NP in hydroponic environments. This was studied in two sets of experiments: bioaugmentation (using CeO2 nanoparticles and Methylobacterium extorquens AM1 pure culture), and biostimulation (using CeO2 or Nd2O3 nanoparticles and endogenous microorganisms). Addition of M. extorquens AM1 in bioaugmentation experiment including 500 mg/L CeO2 nanoparticles could not promote the nanoparticles accumulation in both natural and surface-sterilized treatments. However, it enhanced the translocation of Ce from roots to shoots in sterile samples. Moreover, another REE-utilizing bacterium, Bacillus subtilis, was enriched more than M. extorquens in control samples (no M. extorquens AM1), and associated with 52% and 14% higher Ce extraction in both natural (165 μg/gdried-plant) and surface-sterilized samples (136 μg/gdried-plant), respectively; showing the superior effect of endogenous microorganisms’ enrichment over bioaugmentation in this experiment. In the biostimulation experiments, up to 705 μg/gdried-plant Ce and 19,641 μg/gdried-plant Nd could be extracted when 500 mg/L REE-NP were added. Furthermore, SEM-EDS analysis of the surface and longitudinal cross-sections of roots in Nd2O3 treatments confirmed surface and intracellular accumulation of Nd2O3-NP. These results demonstrate stimulation of endogenous microbial community can lead to an enhanced REE phytoaccumulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number123978
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - May 15 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


  • Bioaugmentation
  • Bioremediation
  • Biostimulation
  • Phytorecovery
  • Rare earth elements nanoparticle


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