Comparative assessment of bacterial diversity and composition in arsenic hyperaccumulator, Pteris vittata L. and non-accumulator, Pteris ensiformis Burm

Document Type


Publication Date



Department of Biological Sciences


The use of arsenic (As) for various industrial and agricultural applications has led to worldwide environmental contamination. Phytoremediation using hyperaccumulators is a sustainable soil As mitigation strategy. Microbial processes play an important role in the tolerance and uptake of trace elements such as in plants. The rhizospheric and endophytic microbial communities are responsible for accelerating the mobility of trace elements around the roots and the production of plant growth-promoting compounds and enzymes. Several studies have reported that the As hyperaccumulator, Pteris vittata L. (PV) influences the microbial community in its rhizosphere and roots. Deciphering the differences in the microbiomes of hyperaccumulators and non-accumulators is crucial in understanding the mechanism of hyperaccumulation. We hypothesized that there are significant differences in the microbiome of roots, rhizospheric soil, and bulk soil between the hyperaccumulator PV and a non-accumulator of the same genus, Pteris ensiformis Burm. (PE), and that the differential recruitment of bacterial communities provides PV with an advantage in As contaminated soil. We compared root endophytic, rhizospheric, and bulk soil microbial communities between PV and PE species grown in As-contaminated soil in a greenhouse setting. There was a significant difference (p < 0.001) in the microbiome of the three compartments between the ferns. Differential abundance analysis showed 328 Amplicon Sequence Variants (ASVs) enriched in PV compared to 172 in PE. The bulk and rhizospheric soil of both ferns were abundant in As-resistant genera. However, As-tolerant root endophytic genera were present in PV but absent in PE. Our findings show that there is a difference between the bacterial composition of an As hyperaccumulator and a non-accumulator species grown in As-contaminated soil. These differences need to be further explored to develop strategies for improving the efficiency of metal uptake in plants growing in As polluted soil.

Publication Title