Bisphenol-A (BPA), a common industrial polymer, is an endocrine disrupting compound, which mimics estrogen by binding to the organism’s estrogen receptors, altering normal functioning, possibly leading to tumor development, reproductive dysfunction, and obesity. Prior research has documented several plant species that showed potential to take up BPA from both soil and aqueous media; suggesting phytoremediation could be a promising ecologically-safe and cost-effective alternative to effectively eliminate environmental BPA, as compared to traditional ex situ processes. Our goal is to investigate the phytoremediation potential of a native plant, Blue Bush Lake Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), for its effectiveness in removing BPA from aquatic media. The present study aims to achieve this goal by using three experimental approaches: i) a short-term (48 h) study to investigate if the Blue Bush Lake Bean plant has the ability to remove BPA from aquatic media, ii) the effect of BPA on germination, and iii) a long-term study (until the complete removal is achieved) to evaluate the kinetics of BPA removal by the Blue Bush Lake Bean plant as functions of environmentally relevant initial BPA loads.
Preliminary results are highly promising; 31% of initial BPA concentrations are removed within 48h by Blue Bush Lake Bean plants, whereas BPA in the no-plant BPA-amended control remained statistically unaltered (p>0.05). Currently our laboratory aims to investigate the effect on germination of several BPA concentrations, from 100 µg/L-1 to 20mg/L-1. The long-term study is underway in our controlled plant growth chamber’s hydroponic set-up at 250C, 16h photoperiod, and 65% humidity. The periodically collected data are being used to evaluate the BPA removal rates and how they vary with different initial BPA concentrations in the aquatic media. After harvesting, plant samples will be tested to determine the accumulation of BPA in root, root to shoot translocation, and possible biotransformation in root or shoot tissues of the Blue Bush Lake Bean plant. Analysis of BPA is being conducted using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) with proper accuracy and precision. Statistical analysis is conducted using JMP version 11 to conduct outlier analysis and mean comparison using Tukey Kramer honest significant difference test at a 95% confidence interval. The data so far is highly encouraging; once completed will fully characterize the phytoremediation potential of this native plant in cleaning up BPA contaminated aquatic systems.