Selenium concentrations in the soil environment are directly linked to its transfer in the food chain, eventually causing either deficiency or toxicity associated with several physiological dysfunctions in animals and humans. Selenium bioavailability depends on its speciation in the soil environment, which is mainly influenced by the prevailing pH, redox potential, and organic matter content of the soil. The selenium cycle in the environment is primarily mediated through chemical and biological selenium transformations. Interactions of selenium with microorganisms and plants in the soil environment have been studied in order to understand the underlying interplay of selenium conversions and to develop environmental technologies for efficient bioremediation of seleniferous soils. In situ approaches such as phytoremediation, soil amendment with organic matter and biovolatilization are promising for remediation of seleniferous soils. Ex situ remediation of contaminated soils by soil washing with benign leaching agents is widely considered for removing heavy metal pollutants. However, it has not been applied until now for remediation of seleniferous soils. Washing of seleniferous soils with benign leaching agents and further treatment of Se-bearing leachates in bioreactors through microbial reduction will be advantageous as it is aimed at removal as well as recovery of selenium for potential re-use for agricultural and industrial applications. This review summarizes the impact of selenium deficiency and toxicity on ecosystems in selenium deficient and seleniferous regions across the globe, and recent research in the field of bioremediation of seleniferous soils.
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