Engineering plant-microbe symbiosis for rhizoremediation of heavy metals

Cindy H. Wu, Thomas K. Wood, Ashok Mulchandani, Wilfred Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

234 Scopus citations


The use of plants for rehabilitation of heavy-metal-contaminated environments is an emerging area of interest because it provides an ecologically sound and safe method for restoration and remediation. Although a number of plant species are capable of hyperaccumulation of heavy metals, the technology is not applicable for remediating sites with multiple contaminants. A clever solution is to combine the advantages of microbe-plant symbiosis within the plant rhizosphere into an effective cleanup technology. We demonstrated that expression of a metal-binding peptide (EC20) in a rhizobacterium, Pseudomonas putida 06909, not only improved cadmium binding but also alleviated the cellular toxicity of cadmium. More importantly, inoculation of sunflower roots with the engineered rhizobacterium resulted in a marked decrease in cadmium phytotoxicity and a 40% increase in cadmium accumulation in the plant root. Owing to the significantly improved growth characteristics of both the rhizobacterium and plant, the use of EC20-expressing P. putida endowed with organic-degrading capabilities may be a promising strategy to remediate mixed organic-metal- contaminated sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1129-1134
Number of pages6
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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