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Trends Biotechnol. 2007 Apr;25(4):158-65. Epub 2007 Feb 15.

Arsenic hazards: strategies for tolerance and remediation by plants.

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  • 1Environmental Science Division, National Botanical Research Institute, Rana Pratap Marg, Lucknow 226001, India.


Arsenic toxicity has become a global concern owing to the ever-increasing contamination of water, soil and crops in many regions of the world. To limit the detrimental impact of arsenic compounds, efficient strategies such as phytoremediation are required. Suitable plants include arsenic hyperaccumulating ferns and aquatic plants that are capable of completing their life cycle in the presence of high levels of arsenic through the concerted action of arsenate reduction to arsenite, arsenite complexation, and vacuolar compartmentalization of complexed or inorganic arsenic. Tolerance can also be conferred by lowering arsenic uptake by suppression of phosphate transport activity, a major pathway for arsenate entry. In many unicellular organisms, arsenic tolerance is based on the active removal of cytosolic arsenite while limiting the uptake of arsenate. Recent molecular studies have revealed many of the gene products involved in these processes, providing the tools to improve crop species and to optimize phytoremediation; however, so far only single genes have been manipulated, which has limited progress. We will discuss recent advances and their potential applications, particularly in the context of multigenic engineering approaches.

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