The effect of Cu-resistant plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria and EDTA on phytoremediation efficiency of plants in a Cu-contaminated soil

  • Payman Abbaszadeh-DahajiEmail author
  • Ayda Baniasad-Asgari
  • Mohsen Hamidpour
Research Article


Remediation of heavy metal–contaminated soils is essential for safe agricultural or urban land use, and phytoremediation is among the most effective methods. The success of phytoremediation relies on the size of the plant biomass and bioavailability of the metal for plant uptake. This research was carried out to determine the effect of Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) ligand and Cu-resistant plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) on phytoremediation efficiency of selected plants as well as fractionation and bioavailability of copper (Cu) in a contaminated soil. The test conditions included three plant species (maize: Zea mays L., sunflower: Helianthus annuus L., and pumpkin: Cucurbita pepo L.) and six treatments, comprising two PGPR strains (Pseudomonas cedrina K4 and Stenotrophomonas sp. A22), two PGPR strains with EDTA, EDTA, and control (without PGPR and EDTA). The combination of EDTA and PGPR enhanced the Cu concentration in both shoot and root tissues and increased the plant biomass. The Cu specific uptake was at a maximum level in the shoots of pumpkin plants when treated with the PGPR strain K4 + EDTA (202 μg pot−1), and the minimum amount of Cu was recorded for sunflower with no PGPR or EDTA addition (29.6 μg pot−1). The result of the PGPR-EDTA treatments showed that the combined application of EDTA and PGPR increased the shoot Cu-specific uptake approximately fourfold in pumpkin. Pumpkin with the highest shoot Cu specific uptake and maize with the highest root Cu specific uptake were the most effective plants in phytoextraction and phytostabilization, respectively. The effectiveness of different PGPR-EDTA treatments in increasing Cu specific uptake by crop plants was assessed by measuring the amount of Cu extracted from the rhizosphere soil adhering to the roots of crop species, by the use of the single extractants Diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid (DTPA), H2O, NH4NO3, and NH4OAc. PGPR-EDTA treatments increased the amount of water-extractable Cu from rhizosphere soils more than ten times that of the control. The combined application of the EDTA and PGPR reduced the carbonated Fe and Mn oxide–bound Cu in the contaminated soil, and increased the soluble and exchangeable concentration of Cu. Pumpkin, with high shoot biomass and the highest shoot Cu specific uptake was found to be the most effective field crop in phytoextraction of Cu from the contaminated soil. The results of this pot study demonstrated that the EDTA+PGPR treatment could play an important role in increasing the Cu bioavailability and specific uptake by plants, and thus increasing the phytoremediation efficiency of plants in Cu-contaminated areas.


Copper DTPA EDTA PGPR Single Sequential extraction 



Authors are grateful to Dr. Ann Hamblin and Mahtab Omidvari for their insightful comments and all of their efforts for this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Soil Science, Faculty of AgricultureVali-e-Asr University of RafsanjanRafsanjanIran

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