Plant species affect colonization patterns and metabolic activity of associated endophytes during phytoremediation of crude oil-contaminated soil
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Plants coupled with endophytic bacteria hold great potential for the remediation of polluted environment. The colonization patterns and activity of inoculated endophytes in rhizosphere and endosphere of host plant are among the primary factors that may influence the phytoremediation process. However, these colonization patterns and metabolic activity of the inoculated endophytes are in turn controlled by none other than the host plant itself. The present study aims to determine such an interaction specifically for plant-endophyte systems remediating crude oil-contaminated soil. A consortium (AP) of two oil-degrading endophytic bacteria (Acinetobacter sp. strain BRSI56 and Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain BRRI54) was inoculated to two grasses, Brachiaria mutica and Leptochloa fusca, vegetated in crude oil-contaminated soil. Colonization patterns and metabolic activity of the endophytes were monitored in the rhizosphere and endosphere of the plants. Bacterial augmentation enhanced plant growth and crude oil degradation. Maximum crude oil degradation (78 %) was achieved with B. mutica plants inoculated with AP consortium. This degradation was significantly higher than those treatments, where plants and bacteria were used individually or L. fusca and endophytes were used in combination. Moreover, colonization and metabolic activity of the endophytes were higher in the rhizosphere and endosphere of B. mutica than L. fusca. The plant species affected not only colonization pattern and biofilm formation of the inoculated bacteria in the rhizosphere and endosphere of the host plant but also affected the expression of alkane hydroxylase gene, alkB. Hence, the investigation revealed that plant species can affect colonization patterns and metabolic activity of inoculated endophytic bacteria and ultimately the phytoremediation process.
KeywordsPhytoremediation Plant-endophyte partnerships Crude oil Bacterial colonization Biofilm formation Gene abundance Gene expression
The authors thank the Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan, for the financial support (grant number HEC-2011-1997) for this work.
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