Bacteria Clean Soil Faster


Growing successive crops of plants can clean up heavily polluted soils. But time is a major constraint. Scientists from Ireland may have come up with a solution by combining heavy metal tolerant bacteria with plants used to make biofuels such as oilseed rape. Inoculating plants with metal resistant bacteria provided them with sufficient protection and their seeds germinated better and growth was enhanced. The plant leaves accumulate the metals, the bacteria deal with the contamination, and the plants seem to benefit from some of their activity, the researchers said. The scientists looked at two types of metal tolerant bacteria which colonize the leaves of the oil seed rape plants and one metal tolerant type that lives in the roots of other brassicas (oilseed rape is a member of the brassica family). They found that all three were successful in promoting plant growth.


Down to Earth October, 2008