As(V) Reduction, As(III) Oxidation, and Cr(VI) Reduction by Multi-metal-resistant Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus safensis, and Bacillus cereus Species Isolated from Wastewater Treatment Plant

Industrial progress has resulted in threatening concentrations of toxic metals in various areas of the world. Bioremediation is an economical alternative to chemical methods. Bacteria resistant to As(III), As(V), Cr, Co, Cu, Cd, Hg, Ni, Pb, Se, and Zn were isolated from the wastewater treatment plant of Kasur, Pakistan. Highest resistance against all metals was exhibited by MX-1, MX-3, MX-4, and MX-5. The isolates possessed dual ability to oxidize as well as to reduce As. Highest As(V) reduction (454 µM) was exhibited by MX-1, while most As(III) oxidation was shown by MX-3 (170 µM). The isolates were also capable of reducing Cr(VI), and maximum Cr(VI) reduction (500 µM) was exhibited by MX-3. Transformation of DH5α with MX-1 plasmid showed that resistance genes for As(III), As(V), Cr, Cd, Se, Hg, and Ni were plasmid borne, while in case of MX-3, resistance genes for As(III), As(V), Co, Cu, Se, Pb, Zn, and Ni were present on plasmid. MX-1 and MX-3 were also positive for auxin production (37 and 32.96 µg ml−1, respectively). MX-3 was also found to produce hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and solubilized phosphate. These isolates promoted plant (Vigna radiata) growth both in the presence and absence of the metals. MX-1, MX-3, and MX-5 were identified as Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus safensis, and Bacillus cereus through 16S rRNA gene sequencing, respectively. Such bacteria having multiple traits of resisting multiple metals, dual ability to oxidize/reduce As, and reduce Cr(VI) along with the ability to support plant growth are good tools for remediation of metal-contaminated sites and its cultivation.