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Appl Environ Microbiol. May 1990; 56(5): 1485–1491.
PMCID: PMC184435

DNA Probe-Mediated Detection of Resistant Bacteria from Soils Highly Polluted by Heavy Metals

Abstract

Alcaligenes eutrophus CH34 DNA fragments encoding resistance to Cd2+, Co2+, Zn2+ (czc), or Hg2+ (merA) were cloned and used as probes in colony hybridization procedures with bacteria isolated from polluted environments such as a zinc factory area (desertified because of the toxic effects of zinc contamination) and from sediments from factories of nonferrous metallurgy in Belgium and mine areas in Zaire. From the different soil samples, strains could be isolated and hybridized with the czc probe (resistance to Cd2+, Co2+, and Zn2+ from plasmid pMOL30). Percentages of CFU isolated on nonselective plates which hybridized with the czc and the mercury resistance probes were, respectively, 25 and 0% for the zinc desert, 15 to 20 and 10 to 20% for the two Belgian factories, and 40 and 40% for the Likasi mine area. Most of these strains also carried two large plasmids of about the same size as those of A. eutrophus CH34 and shared many phenotypic traits with this strain. These findings indicated a certain correlation between the heavy-metal content in contaminated soils and the presence of heavy-metal-resistant megaplasmid-bearing A. eutrophus strains.

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