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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 Oct;73(19):6001-11. Epub 2007 Aug 3.

Novel nickel resistance genes from the rhizosphere metagenome of plants adapted to acid mine drainage.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Ecology, Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA), Carretera de Ajalvir km 4, Torrejón de Ardoz 28850, Madrid, Spain.


Metal resistance determinants have traditionally been found in cultivated bacteria. To search for genes involved in nickel resistance, we analyzed the bacterial community of the rhizosphere of Erica andevalensis, an endemic heather which grows at the banks of the Tinto River, a naturally metal-enriched and extremely acidic environment in southwestern Spain. 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis of rhizosphere DNA revealed the presence of members of five phylogenetic groups of Bacteria and the two main groups of Archaea mostly associated with sites impacted by acid mine drainage (AMD). The diversity observed and the presence of heavy metals in the rhizosphere led us to construct and screen five different metagenomic libraries hosted in Escherichia coli for searching novel nickel resistance determinants. A total of 13 positive clones were detected and analyzed. Insights about their possible mechanisms of resistance were obtained from cellular nickel content and sequence similarities. Two clones encoded putative ABC transporter components, and a novel mechanism of metal efflux is suggested. In addition, a nickel hyperaccumulation mechanism is proposed for a clone encoding a serine O-acetyltransferase. Five clones encoded proteins similar to well-characterized proteins but not previously reported to be related to nickel resistance, and the remaining six clones encoded hypothetical or conserved hypothetical proteins of uncertain functions. This is the first report documenting nickel resistance genes recovered from the metagenome of an AMD environment.

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