Alder shrubs and trees that are capable of forming symbioses with mycorrhizal fungi and the nitrogen-fixing actinomycete Frankia sp. are particularly hardy species found worldwide in harsh and nutrient-deficient ecosystems. The mycorrhizal symbiosis may assist alders in nutrient and water uptake, while the actinorhizal symbiosis provides assimilable nitrogen. It is through these highly efficient symbioses, in which microsymbionts benefit from plant photosynthates, that actinorhizal plants such as alders colonize poor substrates, enrich soil, and initiate plant succession. These natural capabilities, combined with careful screening of microsymbionts and host plants, may prove useful for the rehabilitation of disturbed ecosystems. Although alders have been used extensively at industrial scales in forestry, nurse planting, and contaminated land revegetation, relatively little research has focussed on their actinorhizal and mycorrhizal plant-microbe interactions in contaminated environments. To study such a topic is, however, critical to the successful development of phytotechnologies, and to understand the impact of anthropogenic stress on these organisms. In this review, we discuss two alder-based phytotechnologies that hold promise: the stimulation of organic contaminant biodegradation (rhizodegradation) by soil microflora in the presence of alders, and the phytostabilization of inorganic contaminants. We also summarize the plant-microbe interactions that characterize alders, and discuss important issues related to the study of actinorhizal and (or) mycorrhizal alders for the rehabilitation of disturbed soils.