Title: Plants and radionuclides: from hazard to biotechnology

Pierre Chagvardieff

CEA, France


Dr Pierre CHAGVARDIEFF has long expertise in biological science and R&D management on plant physiology, plant x microorganisms interactions, toxicological effects of metals. International expert in biotechnologies at CEA, scientific leader of CEA R&D “impact of technologies on humans and environment”, he is representative in French Union of Research Institutes on environment ( Formerly Director of Biosciences and Biotechnologies Institute of Aix-Marseille (BIAM/CEA/Cadarache), he is manager of DEMETERRES project devoted to the “Development of bio- and eco- technologies for effluents and soils remediation in support to a restauration strategy following a nuclear accident”. He is also part of the SCARCE project (Singapore CEA Alliance for Research in Circular Economy).


Plant nutrition takes off various minerals from the soils; these minerals are necessary to growth but in some cases these minerals are radioisotopes of essential elements but may be also exotic elements derived from industrial activities. The biological responses of plants to radioisotopes will be analysed, from the absorption in roots, the translocation to upper parts in stalks and leaves and their accumulation or storage. The limits of toxicological concentrations will be also discussed. Examples will be developed at a physiological, biochemical and genetic levels concerning Uranium, when this element is derived from uranium ore-bearing sedimentary bedrock, and Cesium (mainly 137Cs) as one of the element released after a nuclear accident. The importance of their bioavailability in the soil is a driven parameter for their impact on plants and the interactions in particular with phosphate and potassium will be described. The biological responses of plants to these elements have generated several biotechnological applications, so-called phytoremediation. The objectives are to manage their residual radioactive concentration in soils or in liquid medium, in order to extract them from the environment through depleting the soil concentration, or at the opposite to repress their accumulation generating edible crops so-called “safe food”. An overview of the properties of various crops to radioactive elements will be presented. Finally, some economical applications will be considered.