Research Center for Soil Contamination and Environmental Remediation, Southwest Forestry University, Kunming 650224, China; Soil and Water Science Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
Soils contaminated with Pb and As are difficult to remediate. In this study, the utility of coupling As-hyperaccumulator Pteris vittata with metal-resistant rhizobacteria was explored. Siderophore-producing and P-solubilizing As-resistant bacteria from the P. vittata rhizosphere were screened for resistance to multiple metals. Results indicated Pseudomonas spp. strain PG-12 was most efficient in resisting multiple metals, i.e., up to 0.6 mM Cd and 10 mM Pb. Amplification of gene fragments encoding various metal efflux transporters (PbrA and CadA2) from genomic DNA of PG-12 suggested that metal efflux might play a role in its metal resistance and detoxification. In addition, PG-12 produced significant levels of plant growth hormones including 17.4 μg mL-1 indole acetic acid and 3.54 μg mL-1 gibberellin. P. vittata sporophytes inoculated with PG-12 were grown in Pb-contaminated medium and exhibited improved growth, increased P uptake, and reduced Pb uptake into plant tissue compared to the control. Results demonstrated that viable PG-12 cells were responsible for Pb immobilization and plant growth enhancement in P. vittata. The ability of PG-12 cells to solubilize P and display resistance to multiple metals combined with the production of plant hormones indole acetic acid and gibberellin make PG-12 a suitable candidate for plant growth promotion in metal-contaminated soil.