Interactions of chromium with microorganisms and plants

FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2001 May;25(3):335-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.2001.tb00581.x.


Chromium is a highly toxic non-essential metal for microorganisms and plants. Due to its widespread industrial use, chromium (Cr) has become a serious pollutant in diverse environmental settings. The hexavalent form of the metal, Cr(VI), is considered a more toxic species than the relatively innocuous and less mobile Cr(III) form. The presence of Cr in the environment has selected microbial and plant variants able to tolerate high levels of Cr compounds. The diverse Cr-resistance mechanisms displayed by microorganisms, and probably by plants, include biosorption, diminished accumulation, precipitation, reduction of Cr(VI) to Cr(III), and chromate efflux. Some of these systems have been proposed as potential biotechnological tools for the bioremediation of Cr pollution. In this review we summarize the interactions of bacteria, algae, fungi and plants with Cr and its compounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Chromium / analysis
  • Chromium / chemistry
  • Chromium / pharmacokinetics
  • Chromium / pharmacology*
  • Chromium / toxicity
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Eukaryota / drug effects
  • Fungi / drug effects
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plants / drug effects


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Chromium