Currently, New Zealand monitors the environment through the State of the Environment (SoE) monitoring program. Here, regional councils and local governments analyze things like marine and soil systems to ensure that NZ’s natural resources can provide for and support life, and that current practices are sustainable [32, 33]. For soil, both the chemical and physical attributes are tested; things like total amounts of heavy metals, nutrients, pH, soil type, bulk density etc. are monitored to determine what locations and land management practices that need remediation .
SoE monitoring currently measures the total abundance heavy metals in the soil, meaning it cannot be determined what portion of these are bioavailable [33, 34]. Bioavailability is here defined as the ability of a metal or element to be taken up by an organism, whether that be a macro or micro-organism. An example of this is copper. Over time, this metal can form secondary minerals in soil that are unavailable to plants and other indicator species, yet as soil becomes more acidic these metals can become soluble again. Thus only measuring the total abundance of copper in soil is insufficient to determine if the soil is suffering from copper toxicity [26, 35]. Having a biological indices, whether a macro- or micro-organism, could rectify this problem as they will only respond to the biologically available elements. The use of these indices have been widely discussed and, in some cases, implemented [34, 36]. In New Zealand, macro-invertebrates are used to analyze stream health; by cataloguing the number of species resilient to pollution and the number of species that are sensitive of pollution in a particular stream, the level of pollut...
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...ain mechanisms confer copper resistance to bacteria. The Cue operon is a detoxification system that changes toxic Cu+ ions to their less toxic Cu2+ form. The Cop operon codes for an efflux pump, where CopA gene product moves copper ions from the cytoplasm to the periplasmic space, and the gene product of CusCFBA removes the ions from the periplasmic space to out the cell . These two operons work under low to moderate copper concentrations and the final resistance mechanism, the plasmid encoded Pco system, allows cells to thrive under high levels of copper contamination . The Pco system is made of 7 genes. Of these, PcoA has similar detoxification processes as CueO and PcoD is thought to work with the Cop system to aid the extrusion of copper from the cell . All PcoA, PcoD and CopA have had success in identifying environmental copper contamination [40, 54]
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