A novel study by bioinformatics and plant-biology experts from McGill University and Université de Montréal was published in the journal Microbiome.
Using advanced techniques for analyzing the simultaneous expression of genes from multiple organisms in an ecosystem, the scientists examined the roots of willows grown on a polluted site in suburban Montréal.
Their research showed that highly complex interactions among roots, fungi and bacteria underlie the ability of some trees to clean polluted land, a process known as phytoremediation.
This study was funded in part by Génome Québec and Genome Canada as part of the GenoRem Project.
New genetic evidence suggests willow trees may tolerate pollution by providing sugars to symbiotic fungi surrounding their roots; the fungi, in turn, provide nutrients to hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria.
Credit: Ectomycorrhizal Fungi image by Dr. Hugues Massicotte, Forest Ecology and Management, University of Northern British Columbia