A plant genetically modified that accumulates Pb is especially promising for phytoremediation

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2003 Apr 4;303(2):440-5. doi: 10.1016/s0006-291x(03)00349-8.


From a number of wild plant species growing on soils highly contaminated by heavy metals in Eastern Spain, Nicotiana glauca R. Graham (shrub tobacco) was selected for biotechnological modification, because it showed the most appropriate properties for phytoremediation. This plant has a wide geographic distribution, is fast-growing with a high biomass, and is repulsive to herbivores. Following Agrobacterium mediated transformation, the induction and overexpression of a wheat gene encoding phytochelatin synthase (TaPCS1) in this particular plant greatly increased its tolerance to metals such as Pb and Cd, developing seedling roots 160% longer than wild type plants. In addition, seedlings of transformed plants grown in mining soils containing high levels of Pb (1572 ppm) accumulated double concentration of this heavy metal than wild type. These results indicate that the transformed N. glauca represents a highly promising new tool for use in phytoremediation efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biodegradation, Environmental*
  • Biological Transport
  • Glucuronidase / genetics*
  • Glucuronidase / metabolism
  • Lead / pharmacokinetics*
  • Metals, Heavy / pharmacokinetics
  • Plant Roots / physiology
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / enzymology
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / physiology*
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Tobacco / genetics*
  • Tobacco / metabolism


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Lead
  • Glucuronidase