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Science of The Total Environment
Volume 819, 2022, 153242

Isolation of heavy metal-immobilizing and plant growth-promoting bacteria and their potential in reducing Cd and Pb uptake in water spinach

Xiaoyu Wang, Debao Cai, Mingfei Ji, Zhaojin Chen, Lunguang Yao, Hui Han

Collaborative Innovation Center of Water Security for the Water Source Region of the Mid-line of the South-to-North Diversion Project of Henan Province, College of Life Sciences and Agricultural Engineering, Nanyang Normal University, Nanyang 473061, PR China.


Heavy metal-immobilizing bacteria are normally capable of stabilizing metals and affecting their absorption by plants. However, few studies have elucidated the mechanisms employed by novel heavy metal-immobilizing and plant growth-promoting bacteria to immobilize Cd and Pb and reduce their uptake by vegetables. In this study, polyamine (PA)-producing strains were isolated and their effects on biomass and metal accumulation in water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica Forssk.) and the underlying mechanisms were investigated. Two PA-producing strains, Enterobacter bugandensis XY1 and Serratia marcescens X43, were isolated. Strains XY1 and X43 reduced the aqueous Cd and Pb levels (49%–52%) under 10 mg L−1 Cd and 20 mg L−1 Pb because of metal ion chelation by bacterially produced PAs and cell adsorption. Further evidence showed that Cd and Pb were bound and precipitated on the bacterial cell surface in the form of Cd(OH)2, CdCO3 and PbO. Compared with strain-free water spinach, greens inoculated with strains XY1 and X43 showed 51%–80% lower Cd and Pb contents. The rhizosphere soil pH and PA contents were significantly higher, and lower contents of the rhizosphere soil acid-soluble fractions of Cd (18%–39%) and Pb (31%–37%) were observed compared to the noninoculated control. Moreover, inoculation with XY1 reduced the diversity of the bacterial community, but the relative abundances of plant growth-promoting and PA-producing bacteria in rhizosphere soil were enriched, which enhanced water spinach resistance to Cd and Pb toxicity. Our findings describe novel heavy metal-immobilizing bacteria that could be used to improve the habitat of vegetables and reduce their uptake of heavy metals.

Keywords: Polyamine-producing bacteria, Polyamine, Immobilization, Heavy metal, Water spinach.

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