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Natural Sciences Education Abstract - Student Essays

Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Can Benefit Heavy Metal Tolerance and Phytoremediation


This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 41 No. 1, p. 23-26
    Received: Nov 4, 2011

    * Corresponding author(s): dfygrof@gmail.com
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  1. David Forgy *
  1. c/o R.R. Weil, Dep. of Environmental Science and Technology, H.J. Patterson Hall, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742; D. Forgy, 812 Veirs Mill Road, Rockville, MD 20851


Sites contaminated by heavy metals, such as industrial waste sites, create unwelcoming environments for plant growth. Heavy metals can have a wide range of toxic effects such as replacing essential elements or disrupting enzyme function. While some heavy metals are essential to plant nutrition at low concentrations, high concentrations of any heavy metal(s) has the effect of reducing or preventing plant growth. Despite the obstacles to plant growth, revegetation of these sites is important because wind and water erosion can transport heavy metals from contaminated sites, thereby spreading these potentially toxic pollutants. Phytoremediation techniques which use plants to remediate contaminated soil may provide a solution to problems of revegetation and contamination. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) may enhance phytoremediation, especially phytoextraction and phytostabilization, by reducing heavy metal stresses on plants, increasing heavy metal uptake, and affecting translocation of metals within plants. This paper provides a review of the effects of AMF colonization on heavy metal tolerance in plants and the potential for utilizing AMF in phytoremediation techniques.

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