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Journal of Environmental Radioactivity
Vol. 99, No: 5, 2008, Pages: 820 - 30

An overview of BORIS: Bioavailability of Radionuclides in Soils

Tamponnet C, Martin-Garin A, Gonze MA, Parekh N, Vallejo R, Sauras-Yera T, Casadesus J, Plassard C, Staunton S, Norden M, Avila R, Shaw G

Institute of Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety, DEI/SECRE, CADARACHE, Saint-Paul-lez-Durance Cedex, France.


The ability to predict the consequences of an accidental release of radionuclides relies mainly on the level of understanding of the mechanisms involved in radionuclide interactions with different components of agricultural and natural ecosystems and their formalisation into predictive models. Numerous studies and databases on contaminated agricultural and natural areas have been obtained, but their use to enhance our prediction ability has been largely limited by their unresolved variability. Such variability seems to stem from incomplete knowledge about radionuclide interactions with the soil matrix, soil moisture, and biological elements in the soil and additional pollutants, which may be found in such soils. In the 5th European Framework Programme entitled Bioavailability of Radionuclides in Soils (BORIS), we investigated the role of the abiotic (soil components and soil structure) and biological elements (organic compounds, plants, mycorrhiza, and microbes) in radionuclide sorption/desorption in soils and radionuclide uptake/release by plants. Because of the importance of their radioisotopes, the bioavailability of three elements, caesium, strontium, and technetium has been followed. The role of one additional non-radioactive pollutant (copper) has been scrutinised in some cases. Role of microorganisms (e.g., K(d) for caesium and strontium in organic soils is much greater in the presence of microorganisms than in their absence), plant physiology (e.g., changes in plant physiology affect radionuclide uptake by plants), and the presence of mycorrhizal fungi (e.g., interferes with the uptake of radionuclides by plants) have been demonstrated. Knowledge acquired from these experiments has been incorporated into two mechanistic models CHEMFAST and BIORUR, specifically modelling radionuclide sorption/desorption from soil matrices and radionuclide uptake by/release from plants. These mechanistic models have been incorporated into an assessment model to enhance its prediction ability by introducing the concept of bioavailability factor for radionuclides.

Keywords:organic compounds, plants, mycorrhiza, and microbes,plant physiology,mycorrhizal fungi.


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