Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 201, Issue 1, pp 107–121 | Cite as

Heavy metal accumulation in Lathyrus sativus growing in contaminated soils and identification of symbiotic resistant bacteria

  • Souhir Abdelkrim
  • Salwa Harzalli Jebara
  • Omar Saadani
  • Manel Chiboub
  • Ghassen Abid
  • Khediri Mannai
  • Moez JebaraEmail author
Original Paper


In this study, two populations of leguminous plants Lathyrus sativus were grown in four soils that were collected from sites differently contaminated by heavy metals. Evaluations included basic soil properties, concentrations of major nutrients and four metals (copper, zinc, lead and cadmium) in these soils. Investigation of Lathyrus sativus response to contamination showed that the increase of heavy metal concentration in soils affected biomass of plant, number of nodules and plant metal uptake. Heavy metal tolerance of 46 isolated bacteria from the root nodules was evaluated and demonstrated that the maximum concentration of Cd, Pb, Cu and Zn tolerated by strains were 0.8, 2.5, 0.2, and 0.5 mM, respectively. Twenty-two isolates were tested for their effects on plant biomass production and nodule formation and showed that only R. leguminosarum nodulated Lathyrus sativus, while some bacteria improved the shoot and root dry biomass. Sequences of their 16S rDNA gene fragments were also obtained and evaluated for tentative identification of the isolates which revealed different bacterial genera represented by Rhizobium sp, Rhizobium leguminosarum, Sinorhizobium meliloti, Pseudomonas sp, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Luteibacter sp, Variovorax sp, Bacillus simplex and Bacillus megaterium. The existence of Pb- and Cd-resistant genes (PbrA and CadA) in these bacteria was determined by PCR, and it showed high homology with PbrA and CadA genes from other bacteria. The tested resistant population was able to accumulate high concentrations of Pb and Cd in all plant parts and, therefore, can be classified as a strong metal accumulator with suitable potential for phytoremediation of Pb and Cd polluted sites. Heavy metal resistant and efficient bacteria isolated from root nodules were chosen with Lathyrus sativus to form symbiotic associations for eventual bioremediation program, which could be tested to remove pollutants from contaminated sites.


Bioremediation Heavy metals Strong accumulator Lathyrus sativus Symbiotic 



The author thanks Dr Yordan Muhovski, PhD (Walloon Agricultural Research Centre CRA-W Department of Life Sciences. Gembloux, Belgium) for English edition; the Laboratory of Legumes, Biotechnology Center of Borj-Cedria (CBBC) and the Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research for securing the funding of this work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

203_2018_1581_MOESM1_ESM.docx (33 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 33 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center of Biotechnology Borj Cedria, Laboratory of LegumesHammam LifTunisia
  2. 2.National Agronomic Institute of TunisiaUniversity of CarthageTunisTunisia

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