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United Nations Environment Programme
Division of Technology, Industry and Economics
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Freshwater Management Series No. 7

Phytotechnologies

A Technical Approach in Environmental Management


GLOSSARY
agrochemicals pesticides and fertilizers developed artificially for agricultural use
algae small, often microscopic, aquatic plants in a water body
aquaculture artificial cultivation or growth of fish, crayfish and other organisms for use as food, particularly in fishpondsand similar structures
aquatic environment the combination of physical, chemical, and biological conditions present in lakes, reservoirs, wetlands, rivers and oceans
bacteria one of the five kingdoms of living beings. Bacteria are structurally simple single cells with no nucleus.
basin a water catchment area, including rivers, streams, lakes, estuaries, etc.
bio life, of living beings, biological
biocatalyst a substance, such as an enzyme or hormone that activates or speeds up a biochemical reaction
biocenosis a community of biologically integrated and interdependent plants and animals
biochemistry the branch of chemistry that deals with plant and animals and their life processes
biocide a poisonous chemical substance that can kill living organisms
bioclimatology the science that deals with the effects of climate on living matter
biodegradeable capable of being decomposed by biological means
biodiversity variability among living organisms and the ecosystems of which they are a part
bioecology the science that deals with the interrelations of communities of animals and plants with their environment
bioengineering the application of engineering science and technology to problems of biology and medicine
biogechemical cycle the cycle in which nitrogen, carbon and other inorganic elements of the soil, water and atmosphere are converted into the organic composition of animals and plants and then released back into the environment
biogeography the branch of biology that deals with the geographical distribution of plants and animals
biology the science that deals with the origin, history, physical characteristics and life processes of plants and animals
bioluminescence the production of light by living organisms
biomanipulation the use of native or artificially introduced biological organisms to treat eutrophication
biomass the total mass or amount of living organisms in a particular area or volume
biome an extensive community of plants and animals whose makeup is determined by soil and climatic conditions
biomedicine a branch of medicine that is combined with research in biology
bioremediation the use of living organisms to treat contaminants or remediate contaminated soil, water or air
bioscience any science whose systematized knowledge is applied to the functions or problems of living organisms
biosphere the zone of the earth, extending from its crust out into the surrounding atmosphere, which contains living organisms
biosynthesis the formation of chemical compounds by the cells of living organisms
biota plant and animal life
biotechnology the application of science and engineering to study problems and provide solutions involving living beings
biotreatment the use of living organisms to t reat contaminants
buffering capacity a measure of the ability of a system to meet changes imposed from the environment
constructed wetlands artificial or engineered wetlands used to remediate surface water or waste water
Eco of the environment, habitat
eco-engineering the application of science and technology to problems involving living organisms and their environment
ecohydrology the integrated study of ecosystems and hydrological processes and their combined potential to influence water dynamics and quality, particularly at the catchment scale
ecology the branch of biology that deals with the relationship between living organisms and their environment
ecosystem a system made up of a community of animals, plants and bacteria, and the physical and chemical environment
ecosystem restoration the process of intentionally altering a site to establish a defined, indigenous ecosystem. The goal of this process is to emulate the structure, function, diversity and dynamics of the specified ecosystem.
ecotechnology the application of science and engineering to study problems and provide solutions involving ecosystems
ecotone a transitional zone between two adjacent communities containing species characteristic of both as well as other species occurr ing only within the zone.
ecotype a group of physiological or morphological variants within a biological species adapted to particular environmental conditions
environmental engineering the application of science and technology to environmental problems
euphotic zone the upper portion of a lake or reservoir where sufficient light is present to support growth of aquatic plants
eutrophic lake or water reservoir a water body receiving large amounts of nutrients from its watershed. It is characterized by high photosynthetic activity and low water transparency.
forensic ecology investigation of a site to determine the history and causes of the current flora and fauna
gene the physical unit of inheritance, made up of a particular sequence of nucleotides on a particular site on a particular chromosome.
gene expression the conversion of the gene’s nucleotide sequence into an actual process or structure in the cell. Some genes are expressed only at certain times during an organism’s life and not at others.
genetically modified organisms (GMOs) the product of biotechnology, which enables genes and their properties to be transferred from one organism, unconstrained by natural reproductive barriers.
genome all the genes in a complete set of chromosomes
hydrodynamics the branch of physics which pertains to the motion and action of water and other liquids
hydrology the science dealing with the waters of the earth, their distribution on the surface and underground, and the cycle involving evaporation, precipitation and flows
impoundments man-made lakes, usually created by the construction of a dam across a river channel; in contrast to natural lakes, impoundments exist because they were constructed for a specific purpose or water use
integrated pest management (IPM) the use of combined strategies to combat pests, including chemical, physical, and biological methods of control
limnology the study of lakes, reservoirs, wetlands and rivers, including their physical, chemical and biological aspects
littoral zone water in a lake or reservoir that is closest to the shore
macrophytes macroscopic (polycellular) plants which can either be submerged (i.e., completely covered by water) or emergent (i.e., only partly covered by water). A distinction can also be made between rooted plants, which have their roots in the sediment, and floating plants, which are floating on the water surface.
mesotrophic lake or water reservoir a water body receiving moderate amounts of nutrients from its watershed. Phytoplankton and other aquatic organisms are not numerous.
micropropagation the mass production of plants from small amounts of cells or tissue
nitrification the process where ammonium is converted to nitrate nucleotides a compound consisting of a base, a phosphate group, and a sugar. DNA and RNA are linear chains (polymers) of nucleotides
oligotrophic lake or water reservoir a water body receiving a relatively small amount of nutrients from the watershed. The biomass of the phytoplankton is not high, nor is the quantity of other aquatic organisms
organic matter any molecules containing carbon produced by plants, animals and humans
photosynthesis the process by which plants and some bacteria use energy from light to form organic matter from inorganic substrates
phyto plant, flora, vegetation
phytoaccumulation like phytoextraction, refers to the uptake and translocation of contaminants in soil by plant roots into the other parts of the plant
phytodegradation like phytotransformation, refers to the breakdown of contaminants taken up by plants through metabolic processes within the plant, or the breakdown of contaminants external to the plant through the effect of compounds (such as enzymes) produced by the plants.
phytoextraction like phytoaccumulation, refers to the uptake and translocation of contaminants in soil by plant roots into the other parts of the plant
phytofortification the fortification of plants with essential nutrients, vitamins and metabolites during their growth and development, there by making these additives more readily available for human/animal consumption
phytogenesis the science of the origin and development of plants
phytogeography the geography of the distribution of plant life
phytohormone plant hormone
phytohydraulics the use of plants to rapidly uptake large volumes of water to contain or control the migration of subsurface water
phytopathology the study of plant diseases and their control
phytopharmaceuticals medicinal preparations obtained from plants
phytoplankton the community of predominantly single cell plants inhabiting the water mass
phytoremediation the use of plants to treat contaminants or remediate contaminated soil, water or air
phytostabilization the use of certain plant species to immobilize contaminants in the soil and groundwater through absorption and accumulation by roots, adsorption onto roots, or precipitation within the root zone of plants.
phytotechnology the application of science and engineering to study problems and provide solutions involving plants
phytotoxic toxic to plants
phytotransformation like phytodegradation, refers to the breakdown of contaminants taken up by plants through metabolic processes within the plant, or the breakdown of contaminants external to the plant through the effect of compounds (such as enzymes) produced by the plants.
phytovolatilization the uptake and transpiration of a contaminant by a plant, with release of the contaminant or a modified form of the contaminant to the atmosphere from the plant.
recombinant DNA novel DNA made by joining DNA fragments from different sources
recuperation the act or process of regaining or restoring stability or balance
remediation the act or process of overcoming problems or deficiencies
restoration the act or process of bringing something back to its original condition
rhizofiltration the adsorption or precipitation of contaminants in solution onto plant roots. It also refers to the absorption of contaminants into the roots.
riparian corridor the corridor along the bank or shore of a body of water sediments materials in a lake or reservoir which are either suspended in the water column or deposited on the bottom. They usually consist of the remains of aquatic organisms, precipitated minerals and eroded material from the watershed.
transgenic organism an organism into which the genes of other species have been engineered
treatment the act, manner, or method of addressing or dealing with something
vegetative cover a long term, sustaining cap composed of soil and plants growing in and/or over waste such as mine tailings, or in a landfill
watershed the area drained by a river or river system
wetland the aquatic habitat in which plants, in contrast to microalgae, are predominant. This includes swamps, marshes, bogs and shallow lakes.
zooplankton a community of invertebrate organisms inhabiting the water mass, usually feeding on bacteria, phytoplankton and/or detritus.
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