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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Ramakrishna Wusirika


In this study, we isolated eight copper-resistant bacteria from Torch Lake sediment contaminated by copper mine tailings (stamp sand). Sequence analysis of gyrB and rpoD genes revealed that these organisms are closer to various Pseudomonas species.

These eight bacterial isolates were also resistant to zinc, cesium, lead, arsenate and mercury. Further characterization showed that all the strains produced plant growth promoting indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), iron chelating siderophore and solubilized mineral phosphate and metals. The effect of bacterial inoculation on plant growth and copper uptake by maize (Zea mays) and sunflower (Helianthus annuus) was investigated using one of the isolates (Pseudomonas sp. TLC 6-6.5-4) with higher IAA production and phosphate and metal soubilization, which resulted in a significant increase in copper accumulation in maize and sunflower, and an increase in the total biomass of maize.

Genes involved in copper resistance of Pseudomonas sp. TLC 6-6.5-4 was analyzed by transposon mutational analysis. Two copper sensitive mutants with significant reduction in copper resistance were identified: CSM1, a mutant disrupted in trp A gene (tryptophan synthase alpha subunit); CSM2, a mutant disrupted in clpA gene (ATP-dependent Clp protease). Proteomic and metabolomic analysis were performed to identify biochemical and molecular mechanisms involved in copper resistance using CSM2 due to its lower minimum inhibitory concentration compared with CSM1 and the wild type.

The effect of different bacterial inoculation methods on plant growth, copper uptake and soil enzyme activities was investigated. Four different delivery methods were used including soil inoculation (before or after plant emergence), seed coating and root dipping. Soil inoculation before sowing seeds and coating seeds with PGPB led to better growth of maize, higher copper uptake and an increase in soil invertase and dehydrogenase activities.

Proteomic and metabolomic analyses were performed to investigate the effect of bacterial inoculation on maize grown in normal soil and stamp sand. Our results revealed that bacterial inoculation led to environment-dependent effects on maize proteome and metabolome.