, Volume 304, Issue 1-2, pp 35-44
Date: 05 Jan 2008

Rhizosphere bacteria affect growth and metal uptake of heavy metal accumulating willows

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A variety of plants growing on metalliferous soils accumulate metals in their harvestable parts and have the potential to be used for phytoremediation of heavy metal polluted land. There is increasing evidence that rhizosphere bacteria contribute to the metal extraction process, but the mechanisms of this plant–microbe interaction are not yet understood. In this study ten rhizosphere isolates obtained from heavy metal accumulating willows affiliating with Pseudomonas, Janthinobacterium, Serratia, Flavobacterium, Streptomyces and Agromyces were analysed for their effect on plant growth, Zn and Cd uptake. In plate assays Zn, Cd and Pb resistances and the ability of the bacteria to produce indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), 1-amino-cyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid deaminase (ACC deaminase) and siderophores were determined. The isolates showed resistance to high Zn concentrations, indicating an adaptation to high concentrations of mobile Zn in the rhizosphere of Salix caprea. Four siderophore producers, two IAA producers and one strain producing both siderophores and IAA were identified. None of the analysed strains produced ACC deaminase. Metal mobilization by bacterial metabolites was assessed by extracting Zn and Cd from soil with supernatants of liquid cultures. Strain Agromyces AR33 almost doubled Zn and Cd extractability, probably by the relase of Zn and Cd specific ligands. The remaining strains, immobilized both metals. When Salix caprea plantlets were grown in γ-sterilized, Zn/Cd/Pb contaminated soil and inoculated with the Zn resistant isolates, Streptomyces AR17 enhanced Zn and Cd uptake. Agromyces AR33 tendentiously promoted plant growth and thereby increased the total amount of Zn and Cd extracted from soil. The IAA producing strains did not affect plant growth, and the siderophore producers did not enhance Zn and Cd accumulation. Apparently other mechanisms than the production of IAA, ACC deaminase and siderophores were involved in the observed plant–microbe interactions.

Responsible Editor: David E. Crowley.