Assessment of plant growth promoting bacterial populations in the rhizosphere of metallophytes from the Kettara mine, Marrakech

L. Benidire, S. I. A. Pereira, P. M. L. Castro, A. Boularbah*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Soil heavy metal contamination resulting from mining activities constitutes a major environmental problem worldwide. The spread of heavy metals is often facilitated by scarce vegetation cover, so there is an urgent need to improve plant survival and establishment in these metalliferous areas. This study is aimed at the isolation and analysis of the phylogenetic relationship of culturable bacteria from the rhizosphere of metallophyte plants growing in the Kettara mine, in Marrakech, in order to select plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR), which could be used in assisted-phytoremediation. Bacterial isolates were grouped by random amplified polymorphic DNA analysis and identified by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Strains were further characterized for the production of plant growth-promoting (PGP) substances, such as NH3, siderophores, indol-3-acetic acid (IAA), hydrogen cyanide, and extracellular enzymes, for ACC-deaminase activity, their capacity to solubilize phosphate, and for their tolerance to heavy metals and acidic pH. Rhizosphere soils were highly contaminated with Cu and Zn and presented low fertility. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the rhizobacteria were affiliated to three major groups: γ-Proteobacteria (48 %), β-Proteobacteria (17 %), and Bacilli (17 %). The most represented genera were Pseudomonas (38 %), Bacillus (10 %), Streptomyces (10 %), and Tetrathiobacter (10 %). Overall, rhizobacterial strains showed an ability to produce multiple, important PGP traits, which may be helpful when applied as plant growth promoter agents in contaminated soils. PGPR were also able to withstand high levels of metals (up to 2615.2 mg Zn l−1, 953.29 mg Cu l−1, and 1124.6 mg Cd l−1) and the order of metal toxicity was Cd > Cu > Zn. The rhizobacterial strains isolated in the present study have the potential to be used as efficient bioinoculants in phytoremediation strategies for the recovery of Kettara mine soils.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21751-21765
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Bacterial diversity
  • Heavy metals
  • Kettara mine
  • Metal resistance
  • Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria
  • Rhizosphere soils


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