• Journal Article

Bioaugmentation with Engineered Endophytic Bacteria Improves Contaminant Fate in Phytoremediation


Weyens, N., van der Lelie, D., Artois, T., Smeets, K., Taghavi, S., Newman, L., ... Vangronsveld, J. (2009). Bioaugmentation with Engineered Endophytic Bacteria Improves Contaminant Fate in Phytoremediation. Environmental Science and Technology, 43(24), 9413-9418.


Phytoremediation of volatile organic contaminants often proves not ideal because plants and their rhizosphere microbes only partially degrade these compounds. Consequently, plants undergo evapotranspiration that contaminates the ambient air and, thus, undermines the merits of phytoremediation. Under laboratory conditions, endophytic bacteria equipped with the appropriate degradation pathways can improve in planta degradation of volatile organic contaminants. However, several obstacles must be overcome before engineered endophytes will be successful in field-scale phytoremediation projects. Here we report the first in situ inoculation of poplar trees, growing on a TCE-contaminated site, with the TCE-degrading strain Pseudomonas putida W619-TCE. In situ bioaugmentation with strain W619-TCE reduced TCE evapotranspiration by 90% under field conditions. This encouraging result was achieved after the establishment and enrichment of P. putida W619-TCE as a poplar root endophyte and by further horizontal gene transfer of TCE metabolic activity to members of the poplars endogenous endophytic population. Since P. putida W619-TCE was engineered via horizontal gene transfer, its deliberate release is not restricted under European genetically modified organisms (GMO) regulations