Background: Phytoremediation is a potentially cost-effective way to remediate highly contaminated mine tailing sites. However, nutrient limitations, especially the deficiency of nitrogen (N), can hinder the growth of plants and impair the phytoremediation of mine tailings. Nevertheless, pioneer plants can successfully colonize mine tailings and exhibit potential for tailing phytoremediation. Diazotrophs, especially diazotrophic endophytes, can promote the growth of their host plants. This was tested in a mine-tailing habitat by a combination of field sampling, DNA-stable isotope probing (SIP) analysis, and pot experiments. Results: Bacteria belonging to the genera Herbaspirillum, Rhizobium, Devosia, Pseudomonas, Microbacterium, and Delftia are crucial endophytes for Chinese silvergrass (Miscanthus sinensis) grown in the tailing, the model pioneer plant selected in this study. Further, DNA-SIP using 15N2 identified Pseudomonas, Rhizobium, and Exiguobacterium as putative diazotrophic endophytes of M. sinensis. Metagenomic-binning suggested that these bacteria contained essential genes for nitrogen fixation and plant growth promotion. Finally, two diazotrophic endophytes Rhizobium sp. G-14 and Pseudomonas sp. Y-5 were isolated from M. sinensis. Inoculation of another pioneer plant in mine tailings, Bidens pilosa, with diazotrophic endophytes resulted in successful plant colonization, significantly increased nitrogen fixation activity, and promotion of plant growth. Conclusions: This study indicated that diazotrophic endophytes have the potential to promote the growth of pioneer plant B. pilosa in mine tailings. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.].
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Microbiology (medical)
- Bacterial colonization
- Diazotrophic endophytes
- Stable isotope probing (SIP)