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Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Mar 28;14(4):7180-92. doi: 10.3390/ijms14047180.

Cadmium tolerance and removal from Cunninghamella elegans related to the polyphosphate metabolism.

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Department of Biology, Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Recife, PE 52171-900, Brazil.


The aim of the present work was to study the cadmium effects on growth, ultrastructure and polyphosphate metabolism, as well as to evaluate the metal removal and accumulation by Cunninghamella elegans (IFM 46109) growing in culture medium. The presence of cadmium reduced growth, and a longer lag phase was observed. However, the phosphate uptake from the culture medium increased 15% when compared to the control. Moreover, C. elegans removed 70%-81% of the cadmium added to the culture medium during its growth. The C. elegans mycelia showed a removal efficiency of 280 mg/g at a cadmium concentration of 22.10 mg/L, and the removal velocity of cadmium was 0.107 mg/h. Additionally, it was observed that cadmium induced vacuolization, the presence of electron dense deposits in vacuoles, cytoplasm and cell membranes, as well as the distinct behavior of polyphosphate fractions. The results obtained with C. elegans suggest that precipitation, vacuolization and polyphosphate fractions were associated to cadmium tolerance, and this species demonstrated a higher potential for bioremediation of heavy metals.

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