Heavy metal contamination in the environment is a global threat which accelerated after the industrial revolution. Remediation of these noxious elements has been widely investigated and multifarious technologies have been practiced for many decades. Phytoremediation has attracted much attention from researchers. Under this technology, heavy metal hyperaccumulator plants have been extensively employed to extract extraordinary concentrations of heavy metals but slow growth, limited biomass and stresses caused by heavy metals imperil the efficiency of hyperaccumulators. Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) can help overcome/lessen heavy metal-induced adversities. PGPR produce several metabolites, including growth hormones, siderophores and organic acids, which aid in solubilization and provision of essential nutrients (e.g. Fe and Mg) to the plant. Hyperaccumulator plants may be employed to remediate metal contaminated sites. Use of PGPR to enhance growth of hyperaccumulator plant species may enhance their metal accumulating capacity by increasing metal availability and also by alleviating plant stress induced by the heavy metals. Combined use of hyperaccumulator plants and PGPR may prove to be a cost effective and environmentally friendly technology to clean heavy metal contaminated sites on a sustainable basis. This review discusses the current status of PGPR in improving the growth and development of hyperaccumulator plants growing in metal contaminated environments. The mechanisms used by these rhizosphere bacteria in increasing the availability of heavy metals to plants and coping with heavy metal stresses are also described.
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