Characterizing the Microbiomes of Native Plants Growing on Disturbed Mine Sites: In Search of Beneficial Microbes to Enhance Rehabilitation

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Charles W. Greer, Qinhong Cai, Stephanie Pacheco, Katrina Callender, Jessica Wasserscheid, Martin Beaudoin Nadeau, Hugo Thibaudeau Robitaille, Daniel Tarte, Mariana Trindade, St├ęphane Boudreau, Damase Khasa

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The remediation and rehabilitation of mine sites presents a number of challenges, one of which is revegetating waste rock and tailings materials, often contaminated with heavy metals and organic contaminants, and depleted of beneficial soil microbes. Revegetation of mine wastes reduces the mobility of inorganic contaminants and enhances the biodegradation of organic contaminants, leading to ecosystem recovery. Although mine wastes are typically poor substrates for plant growth, certain plants often encroach these areas. In this study, an inventory of native plants growing on a northern mine site was conducted to characterize (using environmental DNA sequencing) plant microbiomes (microbes inhabiting the surface and interior of the plants) towards determining whether certain microbes possess beneficial traits, facilitating plant survival and growth on these disturbed sites. Once potential microbes have been identified from the sequence data, a high-throughput method for isolating specific microbes (iChip) is used to obtain individual isolates as potential inoculants for native plants. Individual bacterial isolates (92) with previously described beneficial effects were obtained, comprising the genera Massilia (30.4%), Pseudarthrobacter (20.7%), Ralstonia (14.1%), Pseudomonas (17.4%), Arthrobacter (8.7%), Polaromonas (2.17%), Rugamonas (4.35%), Sphaerotilus (1.09%), and Mucilaginibacter (1.09%). The current focus is on Polaromonas jejuensis which grows at low temperatures and produces ACC deaminase, an enzyme involved in reducing biotic and abiotic stress caused by ethylene in plants, and Ralstonia eutropha which has been found to reduce metal accumulation in plants. Selected isolates are being developed into inocula for native plants, and their plant growth promoting effects will be explored in more detail.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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