Targeting endophytic bacteria for plant growth promotion and heavy metal tolerance

Type

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Thesis sponsors
  • Terravesta
Award date2020
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Abstract

Environmental heavy metal contamination is prevalent due to historical mining industry and other anthropogenic activity. Unlike organic contaminants, heavy metals persist in soils and have a toxic effect on living organisms, particularly when soluble. Heavy metal contamination causes disruption to ecosystems and reduces the availability of land which is safe and suitable for crop growth.
Endophytic bacteria reside within plant tissues and some are known to have beneficial effects such as increasing nutrient availability, protecting against pathogenic microorganisms, and enhancing tolerance to abiotic stresses. Certain endophytic bacteria have the potential to be applied to biomass crops to improve plant growth and heavy metal tolerance. Ultimate target crops include Miscanthus, an already versatile and efficient biofuel crop being developed and distributed in the UK by Terravesta Ltd. Endophyte application has the potential to provide further yield
improvement and improved abiotic stress tolerance.
The aim of this project was to isolate and identify endophytic bacteria from plants growing in heavy metal contaminated environments and perform functional analyses to explore their potential to improve plant growth and confer plant heavy metal tolerance. Bacterial isolates were screened for tolerance to zinc (Zn) and cadmium (Cd) in vitro on solid growth medium, and in planta on Brachypodium distachyon seedlings in a sterile system, to evaluate their individual effects on plant growth in the presence and absence of metals