Identification and Characterization of Novel Genetic and Molecular Mechanisms Behind Arsenic Tolerance in Plants

EPA Grant Number: U915827
Title: Identification and Characterization of Novel Genetic and Molecular Mechanisms Behind Arsenic Tolerance in Plants
Investigators: Lee, David A.
Institution: University of California - San Diego
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: September 1, 2000 through September 1, 2003
Project Amount: $81,001
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Molecular Biology/Genetics , Academic Fellowships , Biology/Life Sciences


The objective of this research project is to identify novel genetic elements that confer tolerance to arsenic to plants.


Laboratories have already cloned plant genes that are responsible for the synthesis of metal-binding peptides, but manipulation of these genes do not appear to be able to increase tolerance to metals, including arsenic. To identify genetic elements that can increase arsenic tolerance, the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana was selected to search for mutants that had altered sensitivity to arsenic. Isolation of these types of mutants would yield genes involved in arsenic detoxification and provide a better understanding of metal detoxification pathways in plants. A screen has been developed to assay for Arabidopsis thaliana mutants that exhibit a significantly increased ability to grow in the presence of arsenate, which normally inhibits seed germination. Once isolated, the tolerance of the mutants will be characterized by using a variety of molecular, genetic, and biochemical techniques. The gene(s) responsible for the plants' phenotype will be identified by either genetic mapping or polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and they will be expressed in other organisms, such as yeast, to confirm their function in metal detoxification.

Expected Results:

By cloning these elements, the molecular mechanisms behind arsenic tolerance in plants will be understood, which will lead to the engineering of plants suitable for phytoremediation.

Supplemental Keywords:

heavy metals, soil, phytoremediation, arsenic, plants., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Waste, Water, Ecology, Environmental Chemistry, Arsenic, Analytical Chemistry, Bioremediation, Ecology and Ecosystems, Molecular Biology/Genetics, fate and transport, molecular mechanisms, genotoxic research, genetics, geochemical efffects, chemical transport, hazardous waste, arsenic removal, biotechnology, geochemistry, genetic engineering, molecular biology, phytoremediation, metals removal, heavy metals

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2001
  • 2002
  • Final