Arsenic Bio-volatilization by Engineered Yeast Promotes Rice Growth and Reduces Arsenic Accumulation in Grains

  • Shikha Verma
  • Pankaj Kumar Verma
  • Debasis ChakrabartyEmail author
Research paper


Arsenic is listed as the most extensive environmental carcinogens. The present report demonstrated that yeast expressing WaarsM gene encoding arsenic methyltransferase from soil fungus Westerdykella aurantiaca removes arsenic from contaminated soil. We investigated the potential use of yeast as a plant growth-promoting agent to stimulate rice plant growth. The genetically engineered (GE) Saccharomyces cerevisiae showed high arsenic methylation and volatilization activity under arsenic stress. Rice seeds bio-primed with GE yeast showed higher seedling vigor index compared to untreated control. Yeast also promotes the growth of rice plants in control condition while GE yeast significantly (P < 0.05) increased shoot length, ca 29%, root length, ca 47% and panicle length, ca 38%, of plants grown in arsenic-contaminated soil. The application of yeast significantly increases the photosynthetic pigments of rice plants in the control condition while in the presence of arsenic; the photosynthetic pigments were increased in plants inoculated with GE yeast only. Plants inoculated with GE yeast, grown in soil irrigated with arsenic-containing water accumulates about 37%, 36% and 28% lower arsenic in the root, shoot and grains, respectively, compared to non-inoculated plants. Thus, volatilization of arsenic from contaminated soil is possible with GE yeast and could be the instrumental agent for reducing arsenic content from the soil and agricultural products.

Article Highlights

  • Expression of WaarsM gene in yeast leads to improved arsenic tolerance via bio-volatilization.

  • Genetically engineered (GE) yeast promotes growth of rice plants under arsenic stress.

  • Rice plants inoculated with GE yeast accumulate less arsenic in grains and all other plant parts.

  • GE yeast could be the instrumental agent for reducing arsenic content from the soil and plants.


Rice Arsenic WaarsM GE Yeast 



The authors acknowledge the Director CSIR-NBRI for extending the facilities to carry out this work and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Govt of India, for the funding through the Project OLP-104. S. V. thankfully acknowledge Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India, for research associateship and P.K.V. thankfully acknowledge UGC for DSKPDF.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest associated with this work.


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Copyright information

© University of Tehran 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shikha Verma
    • 1
  • Pankaj Kumar Verma
    • 1
  • Debasis Chakrabarty
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Genetics and Molecular Biology DivisionCSIR-National Botanical Research InstituteLucknowIndia

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