Phytotechnology NSERC/Hydro-Québec Industrial Research Chair

chairholder: Jacques Brisson

The objective of the Phytotechnology NSERC/Hydro-Québec Industrial Research Chair is to optimize phytotechnological approaches to solve environmental problems related to the operation of power grid infrastructures that generate, transport and distribute electricity. The research program of the Chair will concentrate on two issues for which phytotechnological approaches are tailor-made: i) the restoration of disturbed soil that leads to erosion and the establishment of undesirable plant species and ii) the remediation of soils or water contaminated with wood pole preservatives. The various research projects of the Chair will deepen our understanding of fundamental ecological principles, thereby facilitating the transfer and adaptation of phytotechnology to the numerous other contexts that could benefit from similar practices.

Phytotechnology is a domain of applied science and engineering that contributes to the goals of sustainability by focusing on the use of plants to improve water, soil and air quality, reduce energy use, or restore degraded ecosystems. It is a promising and fast growing research field that seeks solutions to environmental problems related to a wide range of industrial activities. Some applications of phytotechnology include phytoremediation of contaminated soils, constructed wetlands for water treatment, and the use of plant cover for the restoration of disturbed sites, or for protection against erosion or exotic species invasion. Compared to other standard technological methods, phytotechnological approaches have lower impacts on the environment, can contribute significantly to biodiversity, require little or no energy, and show high public acceptance. The growing demand for green, clean or environmentally sound technologies and the real potential to expand their use to a variety of industrial applications, mean that more research is needed to improve performances and efficiency, and diversify usages.

Phytotechnology is a multidisciplinary approach to environmental issues. Phytotechnology relies on several scientific fields, namely ecology, plant physiology, soil sciences, biochemistry, genetics, microbiology and engineering. Interactions among experts of such fields will lead to innovative and creative solutions to address environmental problems of our time.

For more information, have a look at the research chair’s website.