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Transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana expressing fungal arsenic methyltransferase gene (WaarsM) showed enhanced arsenic tolerance via volatilization

Verma, Shikha, Verma, Pankaj Kumar, Pande, Veena, Tripathi, Rudra Deo, Chakrabarty, Debasis
Environmental and experimental botany 2016 v.132 pp. 113-120
Arabidopsis thaliana, agricultural soils, arsenic, arsenicals, chronic exposure, food chain, food crops, fungi, genes, genetic engineering, human health, methyltransferases, seeds, shoots, transgenic plants, volatilization, India
Arsenic contamination in agricultural soil leads to the transfer of arsenic into the food-chain and adversely affects the human health. Generation of genetically engineered plants to transform inorganic arsenic to methylated and volatile arsenic species is one of the efficient strategy to lower arsenic contamination. In the present study, we genetically engineered Arabidopsis thaliana with arsenic methyltransferase (WaarsM) gene of a fungus Westerdykella aurantiaca, isolated from arsenic-contaminated sites of West Bengal. The WaarsM transgenic A. thaliana plants showed greatly enhanced tolerance to AsV and AsIII compared to wild-type (WT) plants. WaarsM expressing transgenic plants evolved 17.5ng and 113ng volatile arsenicals (mg−1 fresh weight) after 48h of exposure to 250μMAsV and 50μMAsIII, respectively. Long-term exposure resulted in 36% and 16% less arsenic accumulation in seeds and shoots, respectively compared to WT plants. Additionally, the S. cerevisiae cells expressing WaarsM showed short lag phase in the presence of arsenic and potentially tolerate up to 5mMAsV and 1mMAsIII. In conclusion, WaarsM from arsenic tolerant fungus can be used in a novel biotechnological solution to decrease arsenic accumulation in food crops grows in arsenic affected areas.