Project code: UEFISCDI/PNII-RU-TE-2014-4-2727
Remediation potential of native facultative metallophytes and the associated rhizosphere microbiota
Environmental heavy metals pollution including soil, water and air has attracted considerable attention due to its detrimental effects on human health either directly or through food chain. Mercury (Hg) pollution, sometimes associated with other metal contaminants such as zinc, lead, manganese, nickel is of particular concern due to its ability to bioaccumulate through the food chain. A restricted number of plant species, called metallophytes can grow on contaminated soils. Among them, the hyperaccumulator plant species, can uptake and endure high level of toxic metals, have drawn attention for their potential for phytoremediation of soils, i.e. decontamination through plants. Facultative metallophyte species within the native, spontaneous flora growing on mercury and mercury-polimetalic substrate can constitute a “green remediation” solution at economical cost. Plant ability to tolerate Hg/heavy metals is due to their collection of metal transporters involved in metal homeostasis within planta. Moreover, association of plants with microorganism at the root level can modify the metal forms in soil increasing their availability and thus uptake within plant. Microorganisms are also capable to adapt to their environmental conditions and the genetic mechanisms of Hg/heavy metal resistance/tolerance in bacteria will also be investigated. Correlation of facultative metallophytes physiology, accumulation of metals within plant and the plant genetic potential to handle metals, with the microorganism from the rhizosphere can be further exploited for phytoremediation technology.