This study determined the potential of fungal endophytes as novel group of biosorbents for metal removal. The endophytic fungi were first isolated from Phragmites, a plant typically used to treat wastewater or leachate, and screened for tolerance and biosorption potential towards various metals. Results revealed that all 21 endophytes demonstrated tolerance to metals tested (Cd2+, Cu2+, Cr3+, Pb2+ and Zn2+), with three isolates (Trichoderma asperellum Iso11, Phomopsis sp. Iso9 and Saccharicola bicolour Iso22) showing the most potential. Of the three, T. asperellum demonstrated better tolerance and adaptive tolerance behaviour to various metals compared to Phomopsis sp. and S. bicolour which were unable to adapt to increasing metal concentrations (up to 2,000 mg L−1). All three isolates showed similar efficacy in removing metals in single-metal solutions. On the contrary, in multi-metal solutions, T. asperellum and S. bicolour showed higher affinity to adsorb Cu2+, followed by Cr3+ and Pb2+, while Phomopsis sp. had affinity towards metals in the following trend: Cu2+ > Pb2+ > Cr3+. This study is the first to document the metal tolerance and sorption efficacy of endophytes from Phragmites.
- Adaptive behaviour
- Metal tolerance