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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Bioremediation and Biodegradation

Analysis of Transgenic Indian Mustard Plants for Phytoremediation of Metal-Contaminated Mine Tailings


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 32 No. 2, p. 432-440
    Received: Dec 11, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): epsmits@lamar.colostate.edu
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  1. Lindsay E. Bennetta,
  2. Jason L. Burkheada,
  3. Kerry L. Halea,
  4. Norman Terryb,
  5. Marinus Pilona and
  6. Elizabeth A. H. Pilon-Smits *a
  1. a Colorado State Univ., Biology Dep., A/Z Building, Fort Collins, CO 80523
    b Dep. of Plant and Microbial Biology, 111 Koshland Hall, Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA 94270


Transgenic Indian mustard [Brassica juncea (L.) Czern.] plants overproducing the enzymes γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase (ECS) or glutathione synthetase (GS) were shown previously to have increased levels of the metal-binding thiol peptides phytochelatins and glutathione, and enhanced Cd tolerance and accumulation. Furthermore, transgenic Indian mustard plants overexpressing adenosine triphosphate sulfurylase (APS) were shown to have higher levels of glutathione and total thiols. These results were obtained with a solution culture. To better examine the phytoremediation potential of these transgenics, a greenhouse experiment was performed in which the transgenics were grown on metal-contaminated soil collected from a USEPA Superfund site near Leadville, Colorado. A grass mixture used for revegetation of the site was included for comparison. The ECS and GS transgenics accumulated significantly (P < 0.05) more metal in their shoot than wild-type (WT) Indian mustard, while the APS plants did not. Of the six metals tested, the ECS and GS transgenics accumulated 1.5-fold more Cd, and 1.5- to 2-fold more Zn, compared with wild-type Indian mustard. Furthermore, the ECS transgenics accumulated 2.4- to 3-fold more Cr, Cu, and Pb, relative to WT. The grass mixture accumulated significantly less metal than Indian mustard: approximately 2-fold less Cd, Cu, Mn, and Zn, and 5.7-fold less Pb than WT Indian mustard. All transgenics removed significantly more metal from the soil compared with WT Indian mustard or an unplanted control. While WT did not remove more metal than the unplanted control for any of the metals tested, all three types of transgenics significantly reduced the soil metal concentration, and removed between 6% (Zn) and 25% (Cd) of the soil metal. This study is the first to demonstrate enhanced phytoextraction potential of transgenic plants using polluted environmental soil. The results confirm the importance of metal-binding peptides for plant metal accumulation and show that results from hydroponic systems have value as an indicator for phytoremediation potential.

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Copyright © 2003. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.32:432–440.