Heavy metal pollution damages the ecosystems and presents a major problem for public health. Thus, an urgent need was developed to decrease the high levels of heavy metals in the soil and aquatic environments. With this aim, numerous physicochemical strategies were developed. However, they are money-consuming, require the use of energy and chemical additives and can release secondary compounds that can pollute and cause great damage to the environment. Then, biological methods based on the investigation of bacteria, fungi and plants along with their derived secondary active metabolites became the best alternatives. Using plant capacities, different phytoremediation strategies were developed such as phytoextraction, phytovolatilization, rhizofiltration and phytostabilization. Regarding bioremediation, bacterial biosorption of heavy metals, biolixiviation and lagooning offer great potential for their environmental cleaning. Additionally, the use of secondary active metabolites, such as biosurfactants, is well-studied. Generally, they are a class of structurally very varied molecules commonly synthesized by many microorganisms with amphiphilic character. Owing to their anionic charge, they have the capacity to sequestrate heavy metals permitting their elimination. Glycolipids and lipopeptides are among the most recognized biosurfactants with interesting heavy metal chelating properties.

  • Studied heavy metal pollution and toxicology.

  • Bioremediation and phytoremediation technologies for heavy metal depollution.

  • Use of biosurfactants as heavy metal chelators.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY 4.0), which permits copying, adaptation and redistribution, provided the original work is properly cited (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).