Heavy metal tolerance potential of Aspergillus strains isolated from mining sites

Increased heavy metal pollution generated through anthropogenic activities into the environment has necessitated the need for eco-friendly remediation strategies such as mycoremediation. With a view to prospecting for fungi with heavy metal remediation potentials, the tolerance of five Aspergillus species isolated from soils of three active gold and gemstone mining sites in southwestern Nigeria to varied heavy metal concentrations was investigated. Isolated Aspergillus strains were identified based on the internal transcribed spacer 1 and 2 (ITS 1 and ITS 2) regions. Growth of Aspergillus strains were challenged with a range of varied concentrations of heavy metals: cadmium (Cd) (0–100), copper (Cu) (0–1000), lead (Pb) (0–400), arsenic (As) (0–500), and iron (Fe) (0–800) concentrations (ppm) incorporated into Malt Extract Agar (MEA) in triplicates. Mycelial radial growths were recorded at intervals of 3 days during a 13-day incubation period. Aspergillus strains were identified as A. tubingensis, A. fumigatus, A. terreus, A. nidulans, and A. nomius. A. tubingensis tolerated Cd, Cu, Pb, As, and Fe at all test concentrations (100–1000 ppm), showing no significant (p > .05) difference compared with the control. Similarly, A. nomius tolerated all concentrations of Cu, Pb, As, and Fe and only 50 ppm Cd concentrations. A. nidulans, A. terreus, and A. fumigatus, on the other hand, tolerated all concentrations of Cu, Pb, and Fe with no statistical significance (p > .05) difference from the controls. Overall, the Aspergillus species showed tolerance to heavy metal concentrations above permissible limits for contaminated soils globally. These heavy metal tolerance traits exhibited by the Aspergillus isolates may suggest that they are potential candidates for bioremediation of heavy metal–polluted environments.

Please access this article on this link. DOI: 10.1080/10889868.2016.1250722

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