Heavy metal pollution is one of the most pervasive environmental problems globally. Novel finely tuned algae have been proposed as a means to improve the efficacy and selectivity of heavy metal biosorption. This article reviews current research on selective algal heavy metal adsorption and critically discusses the performance of novel biosorbents. We emphasize emerging state-of-the-art techniques that customize algae for enhanced performance and selectivity, particularly molecular and chemical extraction techniques as well as nanoparticle (NP) synthesis approaches. The mechanisms and processes for developing novel algal biosorbents are also presented. Finally, we discuss the applications, challenges, and future prospects for modified algae in heavy metal biosorption.
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