Phytoremediation is a promising technology to tackle boron toxicity, which restricts agricultural activities in many arid and semi-arid areas. Puccinellia frigida is a perennial grass that was reported to hyperaccumulate boron in extremely boron-contaminated sites. To further investigate its potential for phytoremediation, we determined its response to boron stress under controlled conditions (hydroponic culture). Also, as a first step towards understanding the mechanisms underlying its extreme tolerance, we evaluated the presence and expression of genes related with boron tolerance. We found that P. frigida grew normally even at highly toxic boron concentrations in the medium (500 mg/L), and within its tissues (>5000 mg/kg DW). We postulate that the strategies conferring this extreme tolerance involve both restricting boron accumulation and an internal tolerance mechanism; this is consistent with the identification of putative genes involved in both mechanisms, including the expression of a possible boron efflux transporter. We also found that P. frigida hyperaccumulated boron over a wide range of boron concentrations. We propose that P. frigida could be used for boron phytoremediation strategies in places with different soil characteristics and boron concentrations. Further studies should pave the way for the development of clean and low-cost solutions to boron toxicity problems.
- Puccinellia frigida