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Vol. 30, No. 3, 2013; Pages: 93–101

Heavy metal tolerance in the psychrotolerant Cryptococcus sp. isolated from deep-sea sediments of the Central Indian Basin

Yanping Wang, Heather A. Wiatrowski, Ria John, Chu-Ching Lin, Lily Y. Young, Lee J. Kerkhof, Nathan Yee, Tamar Barkay

Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Rutgers University, 223C Lipman Hall, 76 Lipman Dr., New Brunswick, NJ, 08901, USA.


A deep-sea isolate of the psychrotolerant yeast Cryptococcus sp. (NIOCC#PY13) obtained from polymetallic nodule-bearing sediments of the Central Indian Basin was examined for its capacity to grow in the presence of various concentrations of the heavy metal salts i.e., ZnSO4, CuSO4, Pb(CH3COO)2 and CdCl2. It demonstrated considerable growth in the presence of 100 mg/l concentrations of the above-mentioned four heavy metal salts both at 30°C and 15°C. This strain tolerated comparatively higher levels of these four metal salts than other deep-sea and terrestrial yeast isolates belonging to Cryptococcus, RhodotorulaRhodosporidium and Sporidiobolus spp. Optimum pH for growth of this isolate was in the range of 6–8 in the presence of heavy metal salts at these two temperatures. Scanning electron microscopic (SEM) studies exhibited altered cell surface morphology of the cells under the influence of heavy metals compared to that with control. The adsorption of heavy metals to the cells was demonstrated by FTIR and EDAX analysis. As evidenced by atomic absorption spectrophotometric (AAS) analysis, about 30–90% of the heavy metals were removed from the culture supernatant after 4 days of growth at 30°C. This deep-sea yeast isolate appears to be a potential candidate for bioremediation of metal-contaminated sites. Moreover, its metal tolerance properties provide a significant insight into its ecological role and adaptations to growth in such extreme conditions. 

Keywords: heavy metals; biosorption; metal tolerance; deep-sea sediments; Central Indian Basin;Cryptococcus sp.

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