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Bacteria can aid toxic environmental cleanups, may boost ag production

Date: 7.10.2011 

Remarkable bacteria that resist arsenic could greatly enhance cleanups of toxic environments and potentially boost agricultural production, according to a new University of Florida study.

The bacteria were isolated from arsenic-contaminated soil surrounding the Chinese brake fern, a plant known for its ability to remove arsenic from the environment.

The new findings, published in this month's issue of Bioresource Technology, could lead to improved phytoremediation - the process of using plants to remove environmental contaminants - in which the bacteria are added around the roots of the Chinese brake fern to increase arsenic absorption.

In the study, the bacteria broke arsenic down into a more easily absorbed form and increased the fern's arsenic uptake ability by more than 900 percent. The bacteria also caused the plant to grow bigger, with a nearly 100 percent increase in root size.






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