Phytoremediation is a sustainable technology capable of efficiently removing low or moderate contamination. However, complex pollution conditions can drastically reduce efficiency, as plants can show themselves sensitive to organic contaminants, growing slowly and thus impairing metals’ absorption. In cases where the action of indigenous bacteria degrading hydrocarbons and promoting plant growth is not sufficient, more sophisticated strategies are necessary. This investigation aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a train of technologies that sees advanced phytoremediation in combination with other biological approaches to remediate soil from a disused industrial area contaminated by N-containing compounds, alkyl aromatic hydrocarbons, copper, and nickel. In particular, a stepwise procedure was used with a pre-treatment (landfarming and bioaugmentation), significantly affecting the soil’s fertility, increasing germinability up to 85%, and allowing the plants to extract the metals adequately. Furthermore, with EDTA as a mobilizing agent, nickel absorption has increased up to 36% in Helianthus annuus and up to 88% in Zea mays. For copper, an increase of up to 262% in Helianthus annuus and up to 202% in Zea Mays was obtained. Analysis through Fourier-Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry highlighted the biodegradation of some of the N-containing compounds recording, after phytoremediation, a decrease of up to almost 90%. Metagenomic analysis of the soil showed a typical microbial population of oxidizing hydrocarbon strains with a prevalence of the Nocardiaceae family (43%). The results obtained appear to confirm the usefulness of the approach developed, and the employed cutting-edge analytical techniques allowed a top-notch characterization of the remediation scenario.
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