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Endophytes and Their Potential to Deal with Co-Contamination of Organic Contaminants (Toluene) and Toxic Metals (Nickel) During Phytoremediation

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The aim was to investigate if engineered endophytes that are capable of degrading organic contaminants, and deal with or ideally improve uptake and translocation of toxic metals, can improve phytoremediation of mixed organic-metal pollution. As a model system, yellow lupine was inoculated with the endophyte Burkholderia cepacia VM1468 possessing (a) the pTOM-Bu61 plasmid, coding for constitutive toluene/TCE degradation, and (b) the chromosomally inserted ncc-nre Ni resistance/sequestration system. As controls, plants were inoculated with B. vietnamiensis BU61 (pTOM-Bu61) and B. cepacia BU72 (containing the ncc-nre Ni resistance/sequestration system). Plants were exposed to mixes of toluene and Ni. Only inoculation with B. cepacia VM1468 resulted in decreased Ni and toluene phytotoxicity, as measured by a protective effect on plant growth and decreased activities of enzymes involved in antioxidative defence (catalase, guaiacol peroxidase, superoxide dismutase) in the roots. Besides, plants inoculated with B. cepacia VM1468 and B. vietnamiensis BU61 released less toluene through the leaves than non-inoculated plants and those inoculated with B. cepacia BU72. Ni-uptake in roots was slightly increased for B. cepacia BU72 inoculated plants. These results indicate that engineered endophytes have the potential to assist their host plant to deal with co-contamination of toxic metals and organic contaminants during phytoremediation.
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Keywords: Ni; co-contamination; endophytes; organic contaminants; toluene; toxic metals

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Hasselt University, Centre for Environmental Sciences, Diepenbeek, Belgium 2: Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL)Biology Department, UptonNY, USA

Publication date: January 21, 2011

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