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Mycelia Promote Active Transport and Spatial Dispersion of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>15/05/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Environmental Science and Technology
Issue number10
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)5463-5470
<mark>Original language</mark>English


To cope with heterogeneous subsurface environments mycelial microorganisms have developed a unique ramified growth form. By extending hyphae, they can obtain nutrients from remote places and transport them even through air gaps and in small pore spaces, repectively. To date, studies have been focusing on the role that networks play in the distribution of nutrients. Here, we investigated the role of mycelia for the translocation of nonessential substances, using polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as model compounds. We show that the hyphae of the mycelial soil oomycete Pythium ultimum function as active translocation vectors for a wide range of PAHs. Visualization by two-photon excitation microscopy (TPEM) demonstrated the uptake and accumulation of phenanthrene (PHE) in lipid vesicles and its active transport by cytoplasmic streaming of the hyphae ('hyphal pipelines'). In mycelial networks, contaminants were translocated over larger distances than by diffusion. Given their transport capacity and ubiquity, hyphae may substantially distribute remote hydrophobic contaminants in soil, thereby improving their bioavailability to bacterial degradation. Hyphal contaminant dispersal may provide an untapped potential for future bioremediation approaches.