This is where you’ll find all the scientific papers related to Project GREENLand

Journal Publications

Screening of Native Trichoderma Species for Nickel and Copper Bioremediation Potential Determined by FTIR and XRF

Gordana Racić1, Igor Vukelić1, Branko Kordić2, Danka Radić3, Milana Lazović4, Ljiljana Nešić5 and Dejana Panković1


Soil pollution with heavy metals is a serious threat to the environment. However, soils polluted with heavy metals are considered good sources of native metal-resistant Trichoderma strains. Trichoderma spp. are free-living fungi commonly isolated from different ecosystems, establishing endophytic associations with plants. They have important ecological and biotechnological roles due to their production of a wide range of secondary metabolites, thus regulating plant growth and development or inducing resistance to plant pathogens. In this work we used indigenous Trichoderma strains that were previously isolated from different soil types to determine their tolerance to increased copper and nickel concentrations as well as mechanisms of metal removal. The concentrations of bioavailable metal concentrations were determined after extraction with diethylene-triamine pentaacetate (DTPA)-extractable metals (Cd, Cr, Co, Cu, Pb, Mn, Ni, and Zn) from the soil samples by inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES). Two indigenous T. harzianum strains were selected for copper tolerance, and three indigenous T. longibrachiatum strains were selected for nickel tolerance tests. Strains were isolated from the soils with the highest and among the lowest DTPA-extractable metal concentrations to determine whether the adaptation to different concentrations of metals affects the mechanisms of remediation. Mechanisms of metal removal were determined using Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF), non-destructive methods characterized by high measurement speed with little or no need for sample preparation and very low costs. Increased DTPA-extractable metal content for nickel and copper was detected in the soil samples above the target value (TV), and for nickel above the soil remediation intervention values (SRIVs), for total metal concentrations which were previously determined. The SRIV is a threshold of metal concentrations indicating a serious soil contamination, thus confirming the need for soil remediation. The use of FTIR and XRF methods revealed that the presence of both biosorption and accumulation of metals in the Trichoderma cells, providing good bioremediation potential for Ni and Cu.

Prediction of the Impact of Land Use and Soil Type on Concentrations of Heavy Metals and Phthalates in Soil Based on Model Simulation

The main objective of this study is to determine the possibility of predicting the impact of land use and soil type on concentrations of heavy metals (HMs) and phthalates (PAEs) in soil based on an artificial neural network model (ANN). Qualitative analysis of HMs was performed with inductively coupled plasma–optical emission spectrometry (ICP/OES) and Direct Mercury Analyzer. Determination of PAEs was performed with gas chromatography (GC) coupled with a single quadrupole mass spectrometry (MS). An ANN, based on the Broyden–Fletcher–Goldfarb–Shanno (BFGS) iterative algorithm, for the prediction of HM and PAE concentrations, based on land use and soil type parameters, showed good prediction capabilities (the coefficient of determination (r2) values during the training cycle for HM concentration variables were 0.895, 0.927, 0.885, 0.813, 0.883, 0.917, 0.931, and 0.883, respectively, and for PAEs, the concentration variables were 0.950, 0.974, 0.958, 0.974, and 0.943, respectively). The results of this study indicate that HM and PAE concentrations, based on land use and soil type, can be predicted using ANN.

Heavy metal concentrations in the soil near illegal landfills in the vicinity of agricultural areas — artificial neural network approach

To anticipate the impact of illegal landfills, development of new models should become a part of environmental risk management strategies. One of such approaches includes applications of the artificial neural network (ANN). The main objective of this study was to elucidate the impact of illegal landfilling on the surrounding soil environment and human health, as well as to establish an artificial neural network (ANN) models for predicting the hazards of illegal landfilling as an effective tool in decision-making and environmental risk management.


The identification of heavy metals source in soil was performed by principal component analysis (PCA). To assess the sensitivity of the soil ecosystem to heavy metal concentrations, Soil Quality standards and quantitative indices were used. The possible health effects were valued using the average daily doses (ADDs), hazard quotient (HQ), hazard index (HI), and carcinogenic risk (CR). ANN modeling was used for the prediction of heavy metal concentrations in the soil based on landfill size, municipality size, the number of residents, plant species, soil, and landform types.


The average values of the pollution indexes for Cd were in the moderately contaminated and very high contamination categories. The HQ values were lower than the safe level. Cr and Pb posed a significant CR for adults and children, and Ni for children. The ANN models have exhibited good generalization power and accurately predicted the output parameters with a high value of the coefficient of determination.


Concerning heavy metal concentrations, illegal landfills near agricultural soil have a significant impact on the soil ecosystem and people’s health. The developed ANN models can be applied generally to anticipate the heavy metal concentrations in soil, according to the before mentioned input parameters, with high accuracy.

Conference Publications

Correlation between abundance of microplastics and concentration of phthalate esters

Authors: Nataša Stojić, Ljiljana Ćurčić, Dunja Prokić, Mira Pucarević
Contributors: Dragan Vujadinović, Mirjana Beribaka


In the period from 2017 to 2022, 4,500 soil samples from the territory of Vojvodina were analyzed as part of the program for monitoring non-agricultural land. The results showed that the biggest problem was the presence of phthalate esters, which in certain locations were higher than the maximum allowed concentrations. Phthalate esters are plasticizers that are added to plastic products to improve their characteristics. A big problem appears in countries that do not have or do not implement waste management regulations and a large number of plastic products end up in landfills. Phthalates can be washed out from evreday plastic products as well as from plastic films, sewage irrigation, sludge, composting and mulching films used in agriculture and thus end up in soil and water bodies. The next risk is the possibility of the decomposition of plastic products under the influence of environmental conditions (photodegradation, thermooxidative degradation, hydrolytic degradation, and biodegradation by microorganisms). They can be broken down into smaller particles with dimensions smaller than 5 mm, which is by definition microplastics. Given that both polluting substances generally have the same origin it is necessary to quantify the correlation between the amount of microplastics and the concentration of phthalates. This results helped us in the exposure assessment process and in prediction the environmental concentrations of phthalates associated with microplastics in soil which was the goal of this research.

Technologies for Remediation of Polluted Environments: Between Classic Processes and the Challenges of New Approaches

Miroslav Vrvić


The Holocene epoch in which we live is also the Anthropocene, which is an informal chronological term that extends into the Pleistocene epoch. Various scientific evidences shows human impact on environmental pollution dates back to the age of Homo neanderthalensis, which in Europe was about 70,000–40,000 years ago (or even 400,000 years before the current epoch-BCE). The negative effects on the environment of the life activities of our distant ancestors are reflected in their active use of fire in everyday life.

Later, the pollution of air, water, soil and food, accelerated and became more complicated, which led to the alarming situation in the present time and especially in the future. In the last few years, researchers have focused on poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and micro- and nano plastics (M- and NPs, respectively), as global pollutants.

Environmental pollution requires technologies and processes for its protection and remediation (REM). Classical REM processes are: physical, chemical, physical-chemical and biological, and these are most often combined. The challenges of new approaches are primarily related to the application of new materials (e.g., 2D substances, such as graphene, nano materials, new catalysts) and advanced biotechnologies (e.g., enzyme engineering), nanobio/technologies, as ideal multidisciplinary approaches.

Modern REM concepts are based on the principles of green chemistry and green engineering, with the aim of “closing the loop” of the circular economy and fulfilling the unsustainable 2030 sustainable development (SD) agenda, which in real time coordinates can only be: smart development.

Life cycle assessment (LCA) of microplastics in the environment

Dunja Prokić, Mira Pucarević, Ljiljana Ćurčić, Nataša Stojić, Maja Turk Sekulić, Marcela Šperanda


Microplastic (MP) pollution is one of the most pressing environmental problems of the 21st century. In the EU, between 75.000 and 300.000 tons of MP are released into the environment every year. MP are ubiquitous, being found in seas, lakes, rivers and estuaries, air, sediments, landfills, and wastewater treatment plants because of improper human disposal of plastics and inadequate waste management. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is frequently promoted as a tool to assess environmental impact. LCA is regulated in accordance with ISO 14040 and implies a process that examines environmental aspects and potential environmental impacts on the product or service life cycle. While LCA is a valuable environmental tool, its application to MP has not been sufficiently developed and investigated. The purpose of this paper is to critically review the LCA modeling of MP. Several leading LCA software were analyzed. Based on the conducted research, it was concluded that there are very few databases used by LCA software, which can be connected to MP. In addition, it was concluded that for these types of analysis, it is best to observe the life cycle of plastic waste, focusing on the concept according to which waste is considered a resource.

Inadequate municipal solid waste management and occurrence of phthalate esters in soil in Serbia

Dragana Vidojević, Nataša Stojić, Mira Pucarević, Dunja Prokić, Ljiljana Ćurčić


An increase in urban population and the rising demand for food and other essentials, perpetuate a rise in the amount of waste being generated daily by each household. In the Republic of Serbia, landfilling is the principal action for the municipal solid waste disposal. Landfills receive plenty of plastic waste generated from daily usage. Municipal solid waste in landfills may act as a reservior of microplastics (MPs) and related pollutants such as phthalate esters (PAEs) into surrounding environment. This study illustrated considerable PAEs levels from an uncontrolled landfill without adequate protection, possibly contributing to their release into the environment in the Republic of Serbia.