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Syst Appl Microbiol. 2006 Nov;29(7):539-56. Epub 2006 Aug 21.

Endophytic bacterial diversity in poplar trees growing on a BTEX-contaminated site: the characterisation of isolates with potential to enhance phytoremediation.

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  • 1Macaulay Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, Scotland, AB15 8QH, UK.


The diversity of endophytic bacteria found in association with poplar was investigated as part of a larger study to assess the possibility and practicality of using endophytic bacteria to enhance in situ phytoremediation. Endophytic bacteria were isolated from the root, stem and leaf of two cultivars of poplar tree growing on a site contaminated with BTEX compounds. They were further characterised genotypically by comparative sequence analysis of partial 16S rRNA genes and BOX-PCR genomic DNA fingerprinting, and phenotypically by their tolerance to a range of target pollutants, heavy metals and antibiotics. One hundred and 21 stable, morphologically distinct isolates were obtained, belonging to 21 genera, although six isolates could not be identified with confidence to a genus. The endophytic bacteria exhibited marked spatial compartmentalisation within the plant, suggesting there are likely to be species-specific and non-specific associations between bacteria and plants. A number of isolates demonstrated the ability to degrade BTEX compounds or to grow in the presence of TCE. This study demonstrates that within the diverse bacterial communities found in poplar several endophytic strains are present that have the potential to enhance phytoremediation strategies.

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