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Indigenous microfungi and plants reduce soil nonylphenol contamination and stimulate resident microfungal communities


Nonylphenol, the most abundant environmental pollutant with endocrine disrupting activity, is also toxic to plants and microorganisms, but its actual impact in the field is unknown. In this study, diversity of culturable soil microfungal and plant communities was assessed in a disused industrial estate, at three sites featuring different nonylphenol pollution. Although soil microfungal assemblages varied widely among the sites, no significant correlation was found with point pollutant concentrations, thus suggesting indirect effects of soil contamination on microfungal assemblages. The potential of indigenous fungi and plants to remove nonylphenol was assessed in mesocosm experiments. Poplar plants and a fungal consortium consisting of the most abundant strains in the nonylphenol-polluted soil samples were tested alone or in combination for their ability to reduce, under greenhouse conditions, nonylphenol levels either in a sterile, artificially contaminated sand substrate, or in two non-sterile soils from the original industrial area. Introduction of indigenous fungi consistently reduced nonylphenol levels in all substrates, up to ca. 70% depletion, whereas introduction of the plant proved to be effective only with high initial pollutant levels. In native non-sterile soil, nonylphenol depletion following fungal inoculation correlated with biostimulation of indigenous fungi, suggesting positive interactions between introduced and resident fungi.

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Funding by ENI S.p.A. is kindly acknowledged. Research was partly funded by the University of Torino.

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Correspondence to Mariangela Girlanda.

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Girlanda, M., Favero-Longo, S.E., Lazzari, A. et al. Indigenous microfungi and plants reduce soil nonylphenol contamination and stimulate resident microfungal communities. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 82, 359–370 (2009).

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  • Rhizoremediation
  • Bioaugmentation
  • Soil microfungi
  • Endocrine disrupters