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Biodegradation. 1997;8(2):113-24.

Detection of heavy metal ion resistance genes in gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria isolated from a lead-contaminated site.

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Department of Biological and Food Sciences, Victoria University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia.


Resistance to a range of heavy metal ions was determined for lead-resistant and other bacteria which had been isolated from a battery-manufacturing site contaminated with high concentration of lead. Several Gram-positive (belonging to the genera Arthrobacter and Corynebacterium) and Gram-negative (Alcaligenes species) isolates were resistant to lead, mercury, cadmium, cobalt, zinc and copper, although the levels of resistance to the different metal ions were specific for each isolate. Polymerase chain reaction, DNA-DNA hybridization and DNA sequencing were used to explore the nature of genetic systems responsible for the metal resistance in eight of the isolates. Specific DNA sequences could be amplified from the genomic DNA of all the isolates using primers for sections of the mer (mercury resistance determinant on the transposon Tn501) and pco (copper resistance determinant on the plasmid pRJ1004) genetic systems. Positive hybridizations with mer and pco probes indicated that the amplified segments were highly homologous to these genes. Some of the PCR products were cloned and partially sequenced, and the regions sequenced were highly homologous to the appropriate regions of the mer and pco determinants. These results demonstrate the wide distribution of mercury and copper resistance genes in both Gram-positive and Gram-negative isolates obtained from this lead-contaminated soil. In contrast, the czc (cobalt, zinc and cadmium resistance) and chr (chromate resistance) genes could not be amplified from DNAs of some isolates, indicating the limited contribution, if any, of these genetic systems to the metal ion resistance of these isolates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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