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Title: A Phytoremediation Strategy for Arsenic

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc.
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1052220
Report Number(s):
DOEER63620- Final Report
RR093-250
DOE Contract Number:
FG02-03ER63620
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Meagher, Richard, B. A Phytoremediation Strategy for Arsenic. United States: N. p., 2007. Web.
Meagher, Richard, B. A Phytoremediation Strategy for Arsenic. United States.
Meagher, Richard, B. Tue . "A Phytoremediation Strategy for Arsenic". United States. doi:.
@article{osti_1052220,
title = {A Phytoremediation Strategy for Arsenic},
author = {Meagher, Richard, B.},
abstractNote = {},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue May 01 00:00:00 EDT 2007},
month = {Tue May 01 00:00:00 EDT 2007}
}

Technical Report:
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  • A Phytoremediation Strategy for Arsenic Progress Report May, 2005 Richard B. Meagher Principal Investigator Arsenic pollution affects the health of several hundred millions of people world wide, and an estimated 10 million Americans have unsafe levels of arsenic in their drinking water. However, few environmentally sound remedies for cleaning up arsenic contaminated soil and water have been proposed. Phytoremediation, the use of plants to extract and sequester environmental pollutants, is one new technology that offers an ecologically sound solution to a devastating problem. We propose that it is less disruptive to the environment to harvest and dispose of several thousandmore » pounds per acre of contaminated aboveground plant material, than to excavate and dispose of 1 to 5 million pounds of contaminated soil per acre (assumes contamination runs 3 ft deep). Our objective is to develop a genetics-based phytoremediation strategy for arsenic removal that can be used in any plant species. This strategy requires the enhanced expression of several transgenes from diverse sources. Our working hypothesis is that organ-specific expression of several genes controlling the transport, electrochemical state, and binding of arsenic will result in the efficient extraction and hyperaccumulation of arsenic into aboveground plant tissues. This hypothesis is supported by theoretical arguments and strong preliminary data. We proposed six Specific Aims focused on testing and developing this arsenic phytoremediation strategy. During the first 18 months of the grant we made significant progress on five Specific Aims and began work on the sixth as summarized below. Specific Aim 1: Enhance plant arsenic resistance and greatly expand sinks for arsenite by expressing elevated levels of thiol-rich, arsenic-binding peptides. Hyperaccumulation of arsenic depends upon making plants that are both highly tolerant to arsenic and that have the capacity to store large amounts of arsenic aboveground. Phytochelatins bind diverse thiol-reactive elements like As(III) and are synthesized from amino acids in a three-step enzymatic pathway utilizing three enzymes: ECS = gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase; GS = GSH synthetase; and PS = phytochelatin synthase. We cloned each of the genes that encode these enzymes and used at least two different plant promoters to express them in transgenic Arabidopsis. We have shown that all three confer significant resistance to arsenic and allow rapid growth on a concentration of arsenic (300 micromolar) that kills wild-type seeds and plants.« less
  • Phytoremediation is a site remediation strategy whose time seems to have come in the past few years, with field implementations taking place in a host of applications. From laboratory studies on plant uptake to full-scale phytoremediation treatment strategies, this volume covers the use of plants to treat contaminants such as hydrocarbons, metals, pesticides, perchlorate, and chlorinated solvents. In addition to the phytoremediation studies, this volume also covers specialized remediation approaches such as sequential anaerobic/aerobic in situ treatment, membrane bioreactors, and Fenton's reagent oxidation.
  • In February, 1999, we conducted a small-scale characterization effort to support future remediation decisions for the Southern Sector of the upper Three Runs watershed. The study concentrated on groundwater adjacent to the seepline at Tim's Branch above and below Steed's Pond. the primary compounds of interest were the volatile organic contaminants (VOCs), trichlorethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE). Due to the site topography and hydrogeology, samples collected north of Steed's Pond were from the M-Area (water table) aquifer; while those locations south of Steed's Pond provided samples from the Lost Lake aquifer. Results of the study suggest that the leading edgemore » of the A/M Area plume in the Lost Lake aquifer may be approaching the seepline at Tim's Branch below Steed's Pond, south of Road 2. Neither TCE nor PCE were detected int he samples targeting the seepline of the water table aquifer. The concentrations found for both TCE and PCE associated with the Lost Lake aquifer outcrop region were slightly above the detection limit of the analytical instrument used. The findings of this study are consistent with the conceptual model for the organic contaminant plume in the A/M Area of the Savannah River Site (SRS) -- the plume in the Southern Sector is known to be depth discrete and primarily in the Lost lake Aquifer. The sites with detected VOCs are in the most upstream accessible reaches of Tim's Branch where water from the Lost Lake Aquifer crops out. Additional characterization efforts should be directed near this region to confirm the results and to support future planning for the dilute-distal portions of the A/M Area plume. These data, combined with existing groundwater plume data and future characterization results will provide key information to estimate potential contaminant flux to the seepline and to assess the effectiveness of potential clean-up activities such as phytoremediation.« less
  • 'The long-term goal of this research is to manipulate single-gene traits into plants, enabling them to process heavy metals and remediate heavy-metal pollution by resistance, sequestration, removal, and management of these contaminants (Meagher and Rugh, 1996; Meagher et al., 1997). The working hypothesis behind this proposal was that transgenic plants expressing both the bacterial organo mercury lyase (merB) and the mercuric ion reductase gene (merA) will (A) remove the mercury from polluted sites and (B) prevent methyl mercury from entering the food chain. The authors have had a very successful first year either testing aspects of this hypothesis directly ormore » preparing material needed for future experiments. The results are outlined below under goals A and B, which are explicit in this hypothesis. There were less than 10% of the funds remaining in any category as projected in the first 12 month budget at the end of the first year, with the exception of the equipment category which had 25% of the funds remaining ({approximately} $8,000). Much of this remaining equipment money is being spent this week on a mercury vapor analyzer. It might be useful to remember that at the time this grant was awarded, the authors had successfully engineered a small model plant, Arabidopsis thalianat to use a highly modified bacterial mercuric ion reductase gene, merA9, to detoxify ionic mercury (Hg(II)), reducing it to Hg(0) (Rugh et al., 1996). Seeds from these plants germinate, grow, and set seed at normal growth rates on levels of Hg(II) that are lethal to normal plants. In assays on transgenic seedlings suspended in a solution of Hg(II), 10 ng of Hg(0) was evolved per min per mg wet weight of plant tissue. However, at that time, they had no information on expression of merA in any other plant species, nor had they expressed merB in any plant.'« less
  • 'The long-term objective of the research is to manipulate single-gene traits into plants, enabling them to process heavy metals and remediate heavy-metal pollution by resistance, sequestration, removal, and management of these contaminants. The authors are focused on mercury pollution as a case study of this plant genetic engineering approach. The working hypothesis behind this proposal was that transgenic plants expressing both the bacterial organo mercury lyase (merB) and the mercuric ion reductase gene (merA) will: (A) remove the mercury from polluted sites and (B) prevent methyl mercury from entering the food chain. The results from the research are so positivemore » that the technology will undoubtedly be applied in the very near future to cleaning large mercury contaminates sites. Many such sites were not remediable previously due to the excessive costs and the negative environmental impact of conventional mechanical-chemical technologies. At the time this grant was awarded 20 months ago, the authors had successfully engineered a small model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, to use a highly modified bacterial mercuric ion reductase gene, merA9, to detoxify ionic mercury (Hg(II)), reducing it to much less toxic and volatile metallic Hg(0) (Rugh et al., 1996). Seeds from these plants germinate, grow, and set seed at normal growth rates on levels of Hg(II) that are lethal to normal plants. In assays on transgenic seedlings suspended in a solution of Hg(II), 10 ng of Hg(0) was evolved per min per mg wet weight of plant tissue. At that time, the authors had no information on expression of merA in any other plant species, nor had the authors tested merB in any plant. However, the results were so startlingly positive and well received that they clearly presaged a paradigm shift in the field of environmental remediation.'« less