Bacterial endophyte-enhanced phytoremediation of the organochlorine herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid


  • Editor: Kornelia Smalla

Correspondence: David N. Dowling, Department of Science & Health, Institute of Technology, Carlow, Kilkenny Rd., Carlow, Ireland. Tel.: +059 9170400; fax: +059 9141349; e-mail David.Dowling@ITCARLOW.IE


2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid is a selective systemic herbicide for the control of broad-leaved weeds, which is widely used throughout the world. The persistence of its residues and its potential to migrate in the soil make it necessary to reduce its concentrations in contaminated soil and groundwater. The nature of this compound makes it particularly toxic to the broad-leaved plants, such as the poplar (Populus) and willow (Salix), which are often used in phytoremediation projects. We describe the inoculation of a model plant, the pea (Pisum sativum), with a genetically tagged bacterial endophyte that naturally possesses the ability to degrade 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. The results showed that this strain actively colonized inoculated plants internally (and in the rhizosphere). Inoculated plants showed a higher capacity for 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid removal from soil and showed no 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid accumulation in their aerial tissues. This demonstrates the usefulness of bacterial endophytes to enhance the phytoremediation of herbicide-contaminated substrates and reduce levels of toxic herbicide residues in crop plants.