As a toxic and carcinogenic metalloid, arsenic has posed serious threat to human health. Phytoremediation has emerged as a promising approach to circumvent this problem. Arsenic uptake by Pteris vittata is largely determined by arsenic speciation and mainly occurs via roots; thus, rhizospheric microbial activities may play a key role in arsenic accumulation. The aim of this study was to investigate the potential of arsenic resistant rhizobacteria to enhance arsenic phytoextraction. A total of 49 cultivable rhizobacteria were isolated from the arsenic hyperaccumulating fern, Pteris vittata, and subjected to an initial analysis to identify potentially useful traits for arsenic phytoextraction, such as arsenic resistance and the presence of aioA(aroA)-like (arsenite oxidase-like) gene. Isolated strain r507, named as Cupriavidus basilensis strain r507, was a selected candidate for its outstanding arsenic tolerance, rapid arsenite oxidation ability, and strong colonization to P. vittata. Strain r507 was used in co-cultivation trials with P. vittata in the field for six months. Results showed that the inoculation with strain r507 potentiated As accumulation of P. vittata up to 171%. Molecular analysis confirmed that the inoculation increased the abundance of aioA-like genes in the rhizosphere, which might have facilitated arsenite oxidation and absorption. The findings of this study suggested the feasibility of co-cultivating hyperaccumulators with facilitator bacteria for practical arsenic phytoremediation.
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