The huge volume of sludge emanating from the tannery effluent treatment plants poses a serious environmental problem. Phytoremediation is an emerging technology in which the plants are employed to reclamate the contaminated soil strewn with heavy metals (metalloids) and toxic compounds. This work focuses the impact of application of tannery sludge on biochemical properties of 6 months old tree saplings of Azadirachta indica A. Juss. (Neem), Melia azedarach Linn. (Wild Neem) and Leucaena leucocephala (Lam) de Wit (Subabool) raised over the tannery sludge in an attempt to use these plants for phytoremediation. The plants raised over the garden soil served as the control. The porosity and water holding capacity of the tannery sludge were higher. The plant growth supporting elements such as Ca, total N2, NO3 and Mg were higher in the sludge. The plants raised over the sludge were found to be dark green with increased morphometric parameters. Electrophoretic profile revealed amplification of a few polypeptides (100, 105, 49 and 55 KDa). The levels of biomolecules and the CO2 absorption increased in 6 months old plants. There was a significant uptake and transport of chromium in all the three tree species suggesting that these plants could be employed in phytoremediation of soils contaminated with heavy metals.
Azadirachta indica (Neem); CO2 uptake; Leucaena leucocephala (Subabool); Melia azedarach (Wild Neem); metalloids; Phytoremediation; Stress biomolecules; Tannery sludge
Types of land disposed residuals from selected metal smelting and refining industries are described, as are the origin and disposition of land disposed residuals from the primary copper industry as an example. Quantities of land-disposed or stored residuals, including slags, sludges, and dusts, are given per unit of metal production for most primary and secondary metal smelting and refining industries. Assessments of the hazard potential of residuals are given. Present treatment and disposal of residuals are discussed and assessed for health and environmental protection. Possible technologies for protection of ground and surface water contamination are presented. These include lined lagoons, chemical fixation of sludge, and ground sealing. Possibilities of resource recovery from residuals are discussed. Data are presented showing attenuation of heavy metal ions and fluorides in selected soils. The leachability and mobility of smelting and refining residuals constituents, including heavy metals and fluorides, and other potential toxicants in specific soil, geologic, and hydrologic disposal environments must be carefully considered in setting disposal requirements.
Heavy metals, such as cadmium, copper, lead, chromium and mercury, are important environmental pollutants, particularly in areas with high anthropogenic pressure. Their presence in the atmosphere, soil and water, even in traces can cause serious problems to all organisms, and heavy metal bioaccumulation in the food chain especially can be highly dangerous to human health. Heavy metals enter the human body mainly through two routes namely: inhalation and ingestion, ingestion being the main route of exposure to these elements in human population. Heavy metals intake by human populations through food chain has been reported in many countries. Soil threshold for heavy metal toxicity is an important factor affecting soil environmental capacity of heavy metal and determines heavy metal cumulative loading limits. For soil-plant system, heavy metal toxicity threshold is the highest permissible content in the soil (total or bioavailable concentration) that does not pose any phytotoxic effects or heavy metals in the edible parts of the crops does not exceed food hygiene standards. Factors affecting the thresholds of dietary toxicity of heavy metal in soil-crop system include: soil type which includes soil pH, organic matter content, clay mineral and other soil chemical and biochemical properties; and crop species or cultivars regulated by genetic basis for heavy metal transport and accumulation in plants. In addition, the interactions of soil-plant root-microbes play important roles in regulating heavy metal movement from soil to the edible parts of crops. Agronomic practices such as fertilizer and water managements as well as crop rotation system can affect bioavailability and crop accumulation of heavy metals, thus influencing the thresholds for assessing dietary toxicity of heavy metals in the food chain. This paper reviews the phytotoxic effects and bioaccumulation of heavy metals in vegetables and food crops and assesses soil heavy metal thresholds for potential dietary toxicity.
Heavy metals; Dietary toxicity; Vegetables; Food crops
With the expansion of the world population, the environmental pollution and toxicity by chemicals raises concern. Rapid industrialization and urbanization processes has led to the incorporation of pollutants such as pesticides, petroleum products, acids and heavy metals in the natural resources like soil, water and air thus degrading not only the quality of the environment, but also affecting both plants and animals. Heavy metals including lead, nickel, cadmium, copper, cobalt, chromium and mercury are important environmental pollutants that cause toxic effects to plants; thus, lessening productivity and posing dangerous threats to the agro-ecosystems. They act as stress to plants and affect the plant physiology. In this review, we have summarized the effects of heavy metals on seeds of different plants affecting the germination process. Although reports exist on mechanisms by which the heavy metals act as stress and how plants have learnt to overcome, the future scope of this review remains in excavating the signaling mechanisms in germinating seeds in response to heavy metal stress.
Germination; heavy metals; stress; seed
The effects on the environment of pollution, particularly that caused by various industrial activities, have been responsible for the accelerated fluxes of organic and inorganic matter in the ecosphere. Xenobiotics such as phenol, phenolic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and heavy metals, even at low concentrations, can be toxic to humans and other forms of life. Many of the remediation technologies currently being used for contaminated soil and water involve not only physical and chemical treatment, but also biological processes, where microbial activity is the responsible for pollutant removal and/or recovery. Fungi are present in aquatic sediments, terrestrial habitats and water surfaces and play a significant part in natural remediation of metal and aromatic compounds. Fungi also have advantages over bacteria since fungal hyphae can penetrate contaminated soil, reaching not only heavy metals but also xenobiotic compounds. Despite of the abundance of such fungi in wastes, penicillia in particular have received little attention in bioremediation and biodegradation studies. Additionally, several studies conducted with different strains of imperfecti fungi, Penicillium spp. have demonstrated their ability to degrade different xenobiotic compounds with low co-substrate requirements, and could be potentially interesting for the development of economically feasible processes for pollutant transformation.
Penicillium; biodegradation; bioremediation
An unconventional nutrient medium, distillery spent wash (1:3) diluted) was used to produce di-rhamnolipid biosurfactant by Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain BS2. This research further assessed the potential of the biosurfactant as a washing agent for metal removal from multimetal contaminated soil (Cr-940 ppm; Pb-900 ppm; Cd-430 ppm; Ni-880 ppm; Cu-480 ppm). Out of the treatments of contaminated soil with tap water and rhamnolipid biosurfactant, the latter was found to be potent in mobilization of metal and decontamination of contaminated soil. Within 36 hours of leaching study, di-rhamnolipid as compared to tap water facilitated 13 folds higher removal of Cr from the heavy metal spiked soil whereas removal of Pb and Cu was 9–10 and 14 folds higher respectively. Leaching of Cd and Ni was 25 folds higher from the spiked soil. This shows that leaching behavior of biosurfactant was different for different metals. The use of wastewater for production of biosurfactant and its efficient use in metal removal make it a strong applicant for bioremediation.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Rhamnolipid Biosurfactant; Distillary waste; Metals; Column studies
Bioremediation of metal-contaminated wastestreams has been successfully demonstrated. Normally, whole cells or microbial exopolymers are used to concentrate and/or precipitate metals in the wastestream to aid in metal removal. Analogous remediation of metal-contaminated soils is more complex because microbial cells or large exopolymers do not move freely through the soil. The use of microbially produced surfactants (biosurfactants) is an alternative with potential for remediation of metal-contaminated soils. The distinct advantage of biosurfactants over whole cells or exopolymers is their small size, generally biosurfactant molecular weights are less than 1500. A second advantage is that biosurfactants have a wide variety of chemical structures that may show different metal selectivities and thus, metal removal efficiencies. A review of the literature shows that complexation capacities of several bacterial exopolymers was similar to the complexation capacity of a rhamnolipid biosurfactant produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 9027.
Wastewater particularly from electroplating, paint, leather, metal and tanning industries contain enormous amount of heavy metals. Microorganisms including fungi have been reported to exclude heavy metals from wastewater through bioaccumulation and biosorption at low cost and in eco-friendly way. An attempt was, therefore, made to isolate fungi from sites contaminated with heavy metals for higher tolerance and removal of heavy metals from wastewater. Seventy-six fungal isolates tolerant to heavy metals like Pb, Cd, Cr and Ni were isolated from sewage, sludge and industrial effluents containing heavy metals. Four fungi (Phanerochaete chrysosporium, Aspegillus awamori, Aspergillus flavus, Trichoderma viride) also were included in this study. The majority of the fungal isolates were able to tolerate up to 400 ppm concentration of Pb, Cd, Cr and Ni. The most heavy metal tolerant fungi were studied for removal of heavy metals from liquid media at 50 ppm concentration. Results indicated removal of substantial amount of heavy metals by some of the fungi. With respect to Pb, Cd, Cr and Ni, maximum uptake of 59.67, 16.25, 0.55, and 0.55 mg/g was observed by fungi Pb3 (Aspergillus terreus), Trichoderma viride, Cr8 (Trichoderma longibrachiatum), and isolate Ni27 (A. niger) respectively. This indicated the potential of these fungi as biosorbent for removal of heavy metals from wastewater and industrial effluents containing higher concentration of heavy metals.
Industrial wastewater; Fungi; Biosorbent; Bioaccumulation; Heavy metals
A mixed culture utilizing EDTA as the sole carbon source was isolated from a mixed inoculum of water from the River Mersey (United Kingdom) and sludge from an industrial effluent treatment plant. Fourteen component organisms were isolated from the culture, including representatives of the genera Methylobacterium, Variovorax, Enterobacter, Aureobacterium, and Bacillus. The mixed culture biodegraded metal-EDTA complexes slowly; the biodegradability was in the order Fe>Cu>Co>Ni>Cd. By incorporation of inorganic phosphate into the medium as a precipitant ligand, heavy metals were removed in parallel to EDTA degradation. The mixed culture also utilized a number of possible EDTA degradation intermediates as carbon sources.
High concentrations of heavy metals have been shown to adversely affect the size, diversity, and activity of microbial populations in soil. The aim of this work was to determine how the diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi is affected by the addition of sewage-amended sludge containing heavy metals in a long-term experiment. Due to the reduced number of indigenous AM fungal (AMF) propagules in the experimental soils, several host plants with different life cycles were used to multiply indigenous fungi. Six AMF ecotypes were found in the experimental soils, showing consistent differences with regard to their tolerance to the presence of heavy metals. AMF ecotypes ranged from very sensitive to the presence of metals to relatively tolerant to high rates of heavy metals in soil. Total AMF spore numbers decreased with increasing amounts of heavy metals in the soil. However, species richness and diversity as measured by the Shannon-Wiener index increased in soils receiving intermediate rates of sludge contamination but decreased in soils receiving the highest rate of heavy-metal-contaminated sludge. Relative densities of most AMF species were also significantly influenced by soil treatments. Host plant species exerted a selective influence on AMF population size and diversity. We conclude based on the results of this study that size and diversity of AMF populations were modified in metal-polluted soils, even in those with metal concentrations that were below the upper limits accepted by the European Union for agricultural soils.
The application of sewage sludge to land may increase the concentration of heavy metals in soil. Of considerable concern is the effect of heavy metals on soil microorganisms, especially those involved in the biocycling of elements important to soil productivity. Bradyrhizobium japonicum is a soil bacterium involved in symbiotic nitrogen fixation with Glycine max, the common soybean. To examine the effect of metal-rich sludge application on B. japonicum, the MICs for Pb, Cu, Al, Fe, Ni, Zn, Cd, and Hg were determined in minimal media by using laboratory reference strains representing 11 common serogroups of B. japonicum. Marked differences were found among the B. japonicum strains for sensitivity to Cu, Cd, Zn, and Ni. Strain USDA 123 was most sensitive to these metals, whereas strain USDA 122 was most resistant. In field studies, a silt loam soil amended 11 years ago with 0, 56, or 112 Mg of digested sludge per ha was examined for total numbers of B. japonicum by using the most probable number method. Nodule isolates from soybean nodules grown on this soil were serologically typed, and their metal sensitivity was determined. The number of soybean rhizobia in the sludge-amended soils was found to increase with increasing rates of sludge. Soybean rhizobia strains from 11 serogroups were identified in the soils; however, no differences in serogroup distribution or proportion of resistant strains were found between the soils. Thus, the application of heavy metal-containing sewage sludge did not have a long-term detrimental effect on soil rhizobial numbers, nor did it result in a shift in nodule serogroup distribution.
The distribution and mobility of chromium in the soils and sludge surrounding a tannery waste dumping area was investigated to evaluate its vertical and lateral movement of operational speciation which was determined in six steps to fractionate the material in the soil and sludge into (i) water soluble, (ii) exchangeable, (iii) carbonate bound, (iv) reducible, (v) oxidizable, and (vi) residual phases. The present study shows that about 63.7% of total chromium is mobilisable, and 36.3% of total chromium is nonbioavailable in soil, whereas about 30.2% of total chromium is mobilisable, and 69.8% of total chromium is non-bioavailable in sludge. In contaminated sites the concentration of chromium was found to be higher in the reducible phase in soils (31.3%) and oxidisable phases in sludge (56.3%) which act as the scavenger of chromium in polluted soils. These results also indicate that iron and manganese rich soil can hold chromium that will be bioavailable to plants and biota. Thus, results of this study can indicate the status of bioavailable of chromium in this area, using sequential extraction technique. So a suitable and proper management of handling tannery sludge in the said area will be urgently needed to the surrounding environment as well as ecosystems.
The effects of heavy-metal-containing sewage sludge on the soil microbial community were studied in two agricultural soils of different textures, which had been contaminated separately with three predominantly single metals (Cu, Zn, and Ni) at two different levels more than 20 years ago. We compared three community-based microbiological measurements, namely, phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis to reveal changes in species composition, the Biolog system to indicate metabolic fingerprints of microbial communities, and the thymidine incorporation technique to measure bacterial community tolerance. In the Luddington soil, bacterial community tolerance increased in all metal treatments compared to an unpolluted-sludge-treated control soil. Community tolerance to specific metals increased the most when the same metal was added to the soil; for example, tolerance to Cu increased most in Cu-polluted treatments. A dose-response effect was also evident. There were also indications of cotolerance to metals whose concentration had not been elevated by the sludge treatment. The PLFA pattern changed in all metal treatments, but the interpretation was complicated by the soil moisture content, which also affected the results. The Biolog measurements indicated similar effects of metals and moisture to the PLFA measurements, but due to high variation between replicates, no significant differences compared to the uncontaminated control were found. In the Lee Valley soil, significant increases in community tolerance were found for the high levels of Cu and Zn, while the PLFA pattern was significantly altered for the soils with high levels of Cu, Ni, and Zn. No effects on the Biolog measurements were found in this soil.
The effect of long-term application of heavy metal-laden sewage sludge on the total heterotrophic aerobic and the cadmium-resistant soil bacterial communities was studied. Gram-positive bacteria were completely absent from resistant communities. These findings suggest that this group is highly susceptible to Cd. Shannon's diversity indices estimated for total communities did not reveal negative effects on the communities that developed in the presence of sludge. However, Cd-resistant communities isolated from long-term sludge-amended soils were more diverse than the resistant communities from a control sample, suggesting that adaptation to Cd as a stressor had occurred in the presence of sludge constituents. This higher diversity was attributed to Cd resistance in pseudomonads and gram-negative fermenters. Resistance did not develop by dissemination of Cd resistance plasmids, because these were rarely detected in the genomes of resistant strains.
In recent decades, serious contamination of soils by heavy metals has been reported. It is therefore a matter of urgency to develop a new and efficient technology for removing contaminants from soil. Another aspect to this problem is that environmental pollution decreases the biological quality of soil, which is why pesticides and fertilizers are being used in ever-larger quantities. The environmentally friendly solutions to these problems are phytoremediation, which is a technology that cleanses the soil of heavy metals, and biofumigation, a process that helps to protect crops using natural plant compounds. So far, these methods have only been used separately; however, research on a technology that combines them both using white cabbage has been carried out.
brassica; heavy metals; phytoremediation; biofumigation
The impact of heavy-metal contamination on archaean communities was studied in soils amended with sewage sludge contaminated with heavy metals to varying extents. Fluorescent in situ hybridization showed a decrease in the percentage of Archaea from 1.3% ± 0.3% of 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole-stained cells in untreated soil to below the detection limit in soils amended with heavy metals. A comparison of the archaean communities of the different plots by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis revealed differences in the structure of the archaean communities in soils with increasing heavy-metal contamination. Analysis of cloned 16S ribosomal DNA showed close similarities to a unique and globally distributed lineage of the kingdom Crenarchaeota that is phylogenetically distinct from currently characterized crenarchaeotal species.
Herbaceous plants are common vegetal species generally exposed, for a limited period of time, to bioavailable environmental pollutants. Heavy metals contamination is the most common form of environmental pollution. Herbaceous plants have never been used as natural bioindicators of environmental pollution, in particular to monitor the amount of heavy metals in soil. In this study, we aimed at assessing the usefulness of using three herbaceous plants (Plantago major L., Taraxacum officinale L. and Urtica dioica L.) and one leguminous (Trifolium pratense L.) as alternative indicators to evaluate soil pollution by heavy metals.
We employed Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-AES) to assess the concentration of selected heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Mn, Pb, Cr and Pd) in soil and plants and we employed statistical analyses to describe the linear correlation between the accumulation of some heavy metals and selected vegetal species. We found that the leaves of Taraxacum officinale L. and Trifolium pratense L. can accumulate Cu in a linearly dependent manner with Urtica dioica L. representing the vegetal species accumulating the highest fraction of Pb.
In this study we demonstrated that common plants can be used as an alternative analytical tool for monitoring selected heavy metals in soil.
Co-contamination of the environment with toxic chlorinated organic and heavy metal pollutants is one of the major problems facing industrialized nations today. Heavy metals may inhibit biodegradation of chlorinated organics by interacting with enzymes directly involved in biodegradation or those involved in general metabolism. Predictions of metal toxicity effects on organic pollutant biodegradation in co-contaminated soil and water environments is difficult since heavy metals may be present in a variety of chemical and physical forms. Recent advances in bioremediation of co-contaminated environments have focussed on the use of metal-resistant bacteria (cell and gene bioaugmentation), treatment amendments, clay minerals and chelating agents to reduce bioavailable heavy metal concentrations. Phytoremediation has also shown promise as an emerging alternative clean-up technology for co-contaminated environments. However, despite various investigations, in both aerobic and anaerobic systems, demonstrating that metal toxicity hampers the biodegradation of the organic component, a paucity of information exists in this area of research. Therefore, in this review, we discuss the problems associated with the degradation of chlorinated organics in co-contaminated environments, owing to metal toxicity and shed light on possible improvement strategies for effective bioremediation of sites co-contaminated with chlorinated organic compounds and heavy metals.
biodegradation; biosorption; chlorinated compounds; co-contamination; heavy metals
The use of plants to monitor heavy metal pollution in the terrestrial environment must be based on a cognizance of the complicated, integrated effects of pollutant source and soil-plant variables. To be detectable in plants, pollutant sources must significantly increase the plant available metal concentration in soil. The major factor governing metal availability to plants in soils is the solubility of the metal associated with the solid phase, since in order for root uptake to occur, a soluble species must exist adjacent to the root membrane for some finite period. The rate of release and form of this soluble species will have a strong influence on the rate and extent of uptake and, perhaps, mobility and toxicity in the plant and consuming animals. The factors influencing solubility and form of available metal species in soil vary widely geographically and include the concentration and chemical form of the element entering soil, soil properties (endogenous metal concentration, mineralogy, particle size distribution), and soil processes (e.g., mineral weathering, microbial activity), as these influence the kinetics of sorption reactions, metal concentration in solution and the form of soluble and insoluble chemical species. The plant root represents the first barrier to the selective accumulation of ions present in soil solution. Uptake and kinetic data for nutrient ions and chemically related nonnutrient analogs suggest that metabolic processes associated with root absorption of nutrients regulate both the affinity and rate of absorption of specific nonnutrient ions. Detailed kinetic studies of Ni, Cd, and Tl uptake by intact plants demonstrate multiphasic root absorption processes over a broad concentration range, and the use of transport mechanisms in place for the nutrient ions Cu, Zn, and K. Advantages and limitations of higher plants as indicators of increased levels of metal pollution are discussed in terms of these soil and plant phenomena.
Concentrations of four heavy metals (Cr, Cu, Ni, and Zn) were measured at 1,082 sampling sites in Changhua county of central Taiwan. A hazard zone is defined in the study as a place where the content of each heavy metal exceeds the corresponding control standard. This study examines the use of spatial analysis for identifying multiple soil pollution hotspots in the study area. In a preliminary investigation, kernel density estimation (KDE) was a technique used for hotspot analysis of soil pollution from a set of observed occurrences of hazards. In addition, the study estimates the hazardous probability of each heavy metal using geostatistical techniques such as the sequential indicator simulation (SIS) and indicator kriging (IK). Results show that there are multiple hotspots for these four heavy metals and they are strongly correlated to the locations of industrial plants and irrigation systems in the study area. Moreover, the pollution hotspots detected using the KDE are the almost same to those estimated using IK or SIS. Soil pollution hotspots and polluted sampling densities are clearly defined using the KDE approach based on contaminated point data. Furthermore, the risk of hazards is explored by these techniques such as KDE and geostatistical approaches and the hotspot areas are captured without requiring exhaustive sampling anywhere.
kernel density estimation (KDE); indicator Kriging (IK); sequential indicator simulation (SIS); heavy metal; soil contaminant
Liquid digested sewage sludge from a Chicago waste treatment plant was applied to experimental corn plots starting in 1968. The treatment plant received a high proportion of industrial effluent and the sludge averaged about 200 ppm Cd (dry weight). Corn grain harvested from the plots in 1974 was fed to growing swine for 56 days, and other swine were permitted to forage on the plots during the winters of 1975-76 and 1976-77. The sludge-fertilized corn contained higher concentrations of nutrient and toxic elements, but did not interfere with swine performance. Minor changes in hepatic microsomal oxidases and red blood cells accompanied significant increases in renal Cd and decreases in hepatic Fe. Swine foraging on these plots ingested considerable amounts of sludge soil and accumulated significantly higher concentrations of renal Cd. At lower rates of sludge application the swine outperformed those foraging both on control plots and those receiving heavy sludge applications in terms of weight gain, in-utero piglet survival, blood hemoglobin, and tissue Fe concentrations.
Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) can affect metal mobility either directly by reductive transformation of metal ions, e.g., uranium, into their insoluble forms or indirectly by formation of metal sulfides. This study evaluated in situ and biostimulated activity of SRB in groundwater-influenced soils from a creek bank contaminated with heavy metals and radionuclides within the former uranium mining district of Ronneburg, Germany. In situ activity of SRB, measured by the 35SO42− radiotracer method, was restricted to reduced soil horizons with rates of ≤142 ± 20 nmol cm−3 day−1. Concentrations of heavy metals were enriched in the solid phase of the reduced horizons, whereas pore water concentrations were low. X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) measurements demonstrated that ∼80% of uranium was present as reduced uranium but appeared to occur as a sorbed complex. Soil-based dsrAB clone libraries were dominated by sequences affiliated with members of the Desulfobacterales but also the Desulfovibrionales, Syntrophobacteraceae, and Clostridiales. [13C]acetate- and [13C]lactate-biostimulated soil microcosms were dominated by sulfate and Fe(III) reduction. These processes were associated with enrichment of SRB and Geobacteraceae; enriched SRB were closely related to organisms detected in soils by using the dsrAB marker. Concentrations of soluble nickel, cobalt, and occasionally zinc declined ≤100% during anoxic soil incubations. In contrast to results in other studies, soluble uranium increased in carbon-amended treatments, reaching ≤1,407 nM in solution. Our results suggest that (i) ongoing sulfate reduction in contaminated soil resulted in in situ metal attenuation and (ii) the fate of uranium mobility is not predictable and may lead to downstream contamination of adjacent ecosystems.
Biosurfactants are a unique class of compounds that have been shown to have a variety of potential applications in the remediation of organic- and metal-contaminated sites, in the enhanced transport of bacteria, in enhanced oil recovery, as cosmetic additives, and in biological control. However, little is known about the distribution of biosurfactant-producing bacteria in the environment. The goal of this study was to determine how common culturable surfactant-producing bacteria are in undisturbed and contaminated sites. A series of 20 contaminated (i.e., with metals and/or hydrocarbons) and undisturbed soils were collected and plated on R2A agar. The 1,305 colonies obtained were screened for biosurfactant production in mineral salts medium containing 2% glucose. Forty-five of the isolates were positive for biosurfactant production, representing most of the soils tested. The 45 isolates were grouped by using repetitive extragenic palindromic (REP)-PCR analysis, which yielded 16 unique isolates. Phylogenetic relationships were determined by comparing the 16S rRNA gene sequence of each unique isolate with known sequences, revealing one new biosurfactant-producing microbe, a Flavobacterium sp. Sequencing results indicated only 10 unique isolates (in comparison to the REP analysis, which indicated 16 unique isolates). Surface tension results demonstrated that isolates that were similar according to sequence analysis but unique according to REP analysis in fact produced different surfactant mixtures under identical growth conditions. These results suggest that the 16S rRNA gene database commonly used for determining phylogenetic relationships may miss diversity in microbial products (e.g., biosurfactants and antibiotics) that are made by closely related isolates. In summary, biosurfactant-producing microorganisms were found in most soils even by using a relatively limited screening assay. Distribution was dependent on soil conditions, with gram-positive biosurfactant-producing isolates tending to be from heavy metal-contaminated or uncontaminated soils and gram-negative isolates tending to be from hydrocarbon-contaminated or cocontaminated soils.
Heavy metal pollution of soil is a significant environmental problem and has its negative impact on human health and agriculture. Rhizosphere, as an important interface of soil and plant, plays a significant role in phytoremediation of contaminated soil by heavy metals, in which, microbial populations are known to affect heavy metal mobility and availability to the plant through release of chelating agents, acidification, phosphate solubilization and redox changes, and therefore, have potential to enhance phytoremediation processes. Phytoremediation strategies with appropriate heavy metal-adapted rhizobacteria have received more and more attention. This article paper reviews some recent advances in effect and significance of rhizobacteria in phytoremediation of heavy metal contaminated soils. There is also a need to improve our understanding of the mechanisms involved in the transfer and mobilization of heavy metals by rhizobacteria and to conduct research on the selection of microbial isolates from rhizosphere of plants growing on heavy metal contaminated soils for specific restoration programmes.
Rhizobacteria; Phytoremediation; Heavy metals; Rhizosphere
Depleted uranium (DU) is an emerging environmental pollutant that is introduced into the environment primarily by military activity. While depleted uranium is less radioactive than natural uranium, it still retains all the chemical toxicity associated with the original element. In large doses the kidney is the target organ for the acute chemical toxicity of this metal, producing potentially lethal tubular necrosis. In contrast, chronic low dose exposure to depleted uranium may not produce a clear and defined set of symptoms. Chronic low-dose, or subacute, exposure to depleted uranium alters the appearance of milestones in developing organisms. Adult animals that were exposed to depleted uranium during development display persistent alterations in behavior, even after cessation of depleted uranium exposure. Adult animals exposed to depleted uranium demonstrate altered behaviors and a variety of alterations to brain chemistry. Despite its reduced level of radioactivity evidence continues to accumulate that depleted uranium, if ingested, may pose a radiologic hazard. The current state of knowledge concerning DU is discussed.
depleted uranium; heavy metal; toxicity