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PLoS One. 2016 Dec 8;11(12):e0167927. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0167927. eCollection 2016.

Native Phytoremediation Potential of Urtica dioica for Removal of PCBs and Heavy Metals Can Be Improved by Genetic Manipulations Using Constitutive CaMV 35S Promoter.

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UCT Prague, Faculty of Food and Biochemical Technology, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Technicka 3, Prague, Czech Republic.
UCT Prague, Faculty of Chemical Technology, Department of Inorganic Chemistry, Technicka 3, Prague, Czech Republic.


Although stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) has been shown to reduce HM (heavy metal) content in soil, its wider phytoremediation potential has been neglected. Urtica dioica was cultivated in soils contaminated with HMs or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). After four months, up to 33% of the less chlorinated biphenyls and 8% of HMs (Zn, Pb, Cd) had been removed. Bacteria were isolated from the plant tissue, with the endophytic bacteria Bacillus shackletonii and Streptomyces badius shown to have the most significant effect. These bacteria demonstrated not only benefits for plant growth, but also extreme tolerance to As, Zn and Pb. Despite these results, the native phytoremediation potential of nettles could be improved by biotechnologies. Transient expression was used to investigate the functionality of the most common constitutive promoter, CaMV 35S in Urtica dioica. This showed the expression of the CUP and bphC transgenes. Collectively, our findings suggest that remediation by stinging nettle could have a much wider range of applications than previously thought.

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