Phytoremediation potential of Arabidopsis thaliana, expressing ectopically a vacuolar proton pump, for the industrial waste phosphogypsum

Habib Khoudi, Yafa Maatar, Faïçal Brini, Amine Fourati, Najoua Ammar, Khaled Masmoudi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Phosphogypsum (PG) is a by-product of the phosphorus-fertiliser industry and represents an environmental concern since it contains pollutants such as cadmium (Cd). We have recently shown that the overexpression of a proton pump gene (TaVP1) in transgenic tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) led to an enhanced Cd tolerance and accumulation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential of transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants harbouring the TaVP1 gene to phytoremediate phosphogypsum. A pot experiment was carried out under greenhouse conditions. Transgenic A. thaliana plants harbouring the TaVP1 gene were grown on various substrates containing phosphogypsum (0, 25, 50 and 100 %) for 40 days. At the end of the growth period, we examined the growth (germination, root length, fresh weight) and physiological parameters (chlorophyll and protein contents, catalase activity and proteolysis) as well as the cadmium, Mg, Ca, and P contents of the A. thaliana plants. In order to evaluate Cd tolerance of the A. thaliana lines harbouring the TaVP1 gene, an in vitro experiment was also carried out. One week-old seedlings were transferred to Murashige and Skoog agar plates containing various concentrations of cadmium; the germination, total leaf area and root length were determined. The growth and physiological parameters of all A. thaliana plants were significantly altered by PG. The germination capacity, root growth and biomass production of wild-type (WT) plants were more severely inhibited by PG compared with the TaVP1 transgenic A. thaliana lines. In addition, TaVP1 transgenic A. thaliana plants maintained a higher antioxidant capacity than the WT. Interestingly, elemental analysis of leaf material derived from plants grown on PG revealed that the transgenic A. thaliana line accumulated up to ten times more Cd than WT. Despite its higher Cd content, the transgenic A. thaliana line performed better than the WT counterpart. In vitro evaluation of Cd tolerance showed that TaVP1 transgenic A. thaliana lines were more Cd-tolerant than the WT plants. These results suggested that ectopic expression of a vacuolar proton pump in A. thaliana plants can lead to various biotechnological applications including the phytoremediation of industrial wastes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-280
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • Cadmium
  • Industrial waste
  • Phytoremediation
  • Sequestration
  • Vacuolar proton pump

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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