Indigenous soil bacteria and the hyperaccumulator Pteris vittata mediate phytoremediation of soil contaminated with arsenic species

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Arsenic (As) is a pollutant of major concern worldwide, posing as a threat to both human health and the environment. Phytoremediation has been proposed as a viable mechanism to remediate As-contaminated soil environments. Pot experiments were performed to evaluate the phytoextraction efficiency of As by Pteris vittata, a known As hyperaccumulating fern, from soil amended with different concentrations of arsenate [As(V)] and arsenite [As(III)], the more common, inorganic As forms in soil. The greatest accumulation of As (13.3 ± 0.36 g/kg Dwt) was found in fronds of plants grown in soil spiked with 1.0 g As(V)/kg. The maximum As-bioaccumulation factor (27.3 ± 1.9) was achieved by plants grown in soil amended with 0.05 g As(V)/kg. A total of 864 bacterial cultures were isolated and examined for their ability to enhance phytoremediation of As-contaminated soils. Traits examined included tolerance to As (III and V), production of siderophores, and/or ability to solubilize calcium phosphate and indole acetic acid (IAA) production. A culture-based survey shows greater numbers of viable and As-resistant bacteria were found in the rhizosphere of As-grown plants compared to bulk and unplanted soils. The percentage of bacteria resistant to As(V) was greater (P < 0.0001) than those resistant to As(III) in culture medium containing 0.5, 1, 1.5, and 2 g As/L. Higher (P < 0.0001) percentages of siderophore producing (77%) and phosphate solubilizing (61%) bacteria were observed among cultures isolated from unplanted soil. About 5% (44 of 864) of the isolates were highly resistant to both As (III) and As (V) (2 g/L), and were examined for their As-transformation ability and IAA production. A great proportion of the isolates produced IAA (82%) and promoted As (V)-reduction (95%) or As(III)-oxidation (73%), and 71% exhibited dual capacity for both As(V) reduction and As(III) oxidation. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that 67, 23, and 10% of these isolates belonged to Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Firmicutes, respectively. Analysis of the 16S rRNA gene sequences confirmed that these isolates were closely related to 12 genera and 25 species of bacteria and were dominated by members of the genus Pseudomonas (39%). These results show that these isolates could potentially be developed as inocula for enhancing plant uptake during large scale phytoremediation of As-impacted soils.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110458
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported, in part, from Minnesota's Discovery, Research, and InnoVation Economy (MNDRIVE), University of Minnesota . The authors thank Dr. Lena Ma, University of Florida, Gainesville, for providing the spores of Arsenic hyperaccumulator Pteris vittata. We also would like to thank Sandeep Burman, Remediation Division of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Todd D. DeJournett at Geosyntec.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • 16S rRNA gene
  • Arsenic
  • Phytoextraction
  • Pteris vittata
  • Soil bacteria

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