This study evaluated the phytoextraction capacity of the fern Pteris vittata grown on a natural arsenicrich soil of volcanic-origin from the Viterbo area in central Italy. This calcareous soil is characterized by an average arsenic concentration of 750 mg kg− 1, of which 28% is bioavailable. By means of micro-energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (μ-XRF) we detected As in P. vittata fronds after just 10 days of growth, while a high As concentrations in fronds (5,000 mg kg− 1), determined by Inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), was reached after 5.5 months. Sixteen arsenate-tolerant bacterial strains were isolated from the P. vittata rhizosphere, a majority of which belong to the Bacillus genus, and of this majority only two have been previously associated with As. Six bacterial isolates were highly As-resistant (> 100 mM) two of which, homologous to Paenarthrobacter ureafaciens and Beijerinckia fluminensis, produced a high amount of IAA and siderophores and have never been isolated from P. vittata roots. Furthermore, five isolates contained the arsenate reductase gene (arsC). We conclude that P. vittata can efficiently phytoextract As when grown on this natural As-rich soil and a consortium of bacteria, largely different from that usually found in As-polluted soils, has been found in P. vittata rhizosphere.
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