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Environ Sci Technol. 2007 Aug 15;41(16):5854-61.

Impact of transgenic tobacco on trinitrotoluene (TNT) contaminated soil community.

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Institute of Biotechnology, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1QT, UK.


Environmental contamination with recalcitrant toxic chemicals presents a serious and widespread problem to the functional capacity of soil. Soil bacteria play an essential role in ecosystem processes, such as nutrient cycling and decomposition; thus a decrease in their biomass and community diversity, resulting from exposure to toxic chemicals, negatively affects the functioning of soil. Plants provide the primary energy source to soil microorganisms and affect the size and composition of microbial communities, which in turn have an effect on vegetation dynamics. We have found that transgenic tobacco plants overexpressing a bacterial nitroreductase gene detoxify soil contaminated with the high explosive 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), with a significantly increased microbial community biomass and metabolic activity in the rhizosphere of transgenic plants compared with wild type plants. This is the first report to demonstrate that transgenic plants engineered for the phytoremediation of organic pollutants can increase the functional and genetic diversity of the rhizosphere bacterial community in acutely polluted soil compared to wild type plants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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