Enhanced tolerance of industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) plants on abandoned mine land soil leads to overexpression of cannabinoids

Rabab Husain, Hannah Weeden, Daniel Bogush, Michihito Deguchi, Mario Soliman, Shobha Potlakayala, Ramesh Katam, Stephen Goldman, Sairam Rudrabhatla

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39 Scopus citations


Industrial activities have a detrimental impact on the environment and health when high concentrations of pollutants are released. Phytoremediation is a natural method of utilizing plants to remove contaminants from the soil. The goal of this study was to investigate the ability of Cannabis sativa L. to sustainably grow and remediate abandoned coal mine land soils in Pennsylvania. In this study, six different varieties of industrial hemp (Fedora 17, Felina 32, Ferimon, Futura 75, Santhica 27, and USO 31) were grown on two different contaminated soil types and two commercial soils (Miracle-Gro Potting Mix and PRO-MIX HP Mycorrhizae High Porosity Grower Mix). Plants growing in all soil types were exposed to two environmental conditions (outside and in the greenhouse). Seed germination response and plant height indicated no significant differences among all hemp varieties grown in different soils, however on an average, the height of the plants grown in the greenhouse exceeded that of the plants grown outdoors. In addition, heavy metal analysis of Arsenic, Lead, Nickel, Mercury, and Cadmium was performed. The concentration of Nickel was 2.54 times greater in the leaves of hemp grown in mine land soil outdoors when compared to greenhouse conditions. No differences were found between expression of heavy metal transporter genes. Secondary metabolite analysis of floral buds from hemp grown in mine land soil displayed a significant increase in the total Cannabidiol content (2.16%, 2.58%) when compared to Miracle-Gro control soil (1.08%, 1.6%) for outdoors and in the greenhouse, respectively. Molecular analysis using qRT-PCR indicated an 18-fold increase in the expression of the cannabidiolic acid synthase gene in plants grown on mine land soil. The data indicates a high tolerance to heavy metals as indicated from the physiological and metabolites analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0221570
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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