Eolian dispersion of mine tailings in arid and semiarid environments is an emerging global issue for which economical remediation alternatives are needed. Phytostabilization, the revegetation of these sites with native plants, is one such alternative. Revegetation often requires the addition of bulky amendments such as compost which greatly increases cost. We report the use of plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB) to enhance the revegetation of mine tailings and minimize the need for compost amendment. Twenty promising PGPB isolates were used as seed inoculants in a series of greenhouse studies to examine revegetation of an extremely acidic, high metal content tailings sample previously shown to require 15% compost amendment for normal plant growth. Several isolates significantly enhanced growth of two native species, quailbush and buffalo grass, in tailings. In this study, PGPB/compost outcomes were plant specific; for quailbush, PGPB were most effective in combination with 10% compost addition while for buffalo grass, PGPB enhanced growth in the complete absence of compost. Results indicate that selected PGPB can improve plant establishment and reduce the need for compost amendment. Further, PGPB activities necessary for aiding plant growth in mine tailings likely include tolerance to acidic pH and metals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry