Enviromicrobiology, Ecotoxicology and Ecotechnology Research Laboratory, Department of Ecological Studies, University of Kalyani, Kalyani, Nadia, 741235, West Bengal, India; International Centre for Ecological Engineering, University of Kalyani, Kalyani- 741235, West Bengal, India. Electronic address: [Email]
This study investigated the role of an allochthonous Gram-positive wastewater bacterium (Bacillus sp. KUJM2) selected through rigorous screening, for the removal of potentially toxic elements (PTEs; As, Cd, Cu, Ni) and promotion of plant growth under PTE-stress conditions. The dried biomass of the bacterial strain removed PTEs (5 mg L-1) from water by 90.17-94.75 and 60.4-81.41%, whereas live cells removed 87.15-91.69 and 57.5-78.8%, respectively, under single-PTE and co-contaminated conditions. When subjected to a single PTE, the bacterial production of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) reached the maxima with Cu (67.66%) and Ni (64.33%), but Cd showed an inhibitory effect beyond 5 mg L-1 level. The multiple-PTE treatment induced IAA production only up to 5 mg L-1 beyond which inhibition ensued. Enhanced germination rate, germination index and seed production of lentil plant (Lens culinaris) under the bacterial inoculation indicated the plant growth promotion potential of the microbial strain. Lentil plants, as a result of bacterial inoculation, responded with higher shoot length (7.1-27.61%), shoot dry weight (18.22-36.3%) and seed production (19.23-29.17%) under PTE-stress conditions. The PTE uptake in lentil shoots decreased by 67.02-79.85% and 65.94-78.08%, respectively, under single- and multiple-PTE contaminated conditions. Similarly, PTE uptake was reduced in seeds up to 72.82-86.62% and 68.68-85.94%, respectively. The bacteria-mediated inhibition of PTE translocation in lentil plant was confirmed from the translocation factor of the respective PTEs. Thus, the selected bacterium (Bacillus sp. KUJM2) offered considerable potential as a PTE remediating agent, plant growth promoter and regulator of PTE translocation curtailing environmental and human health risks.