U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Bacteria Produce Distinct Form of Reduced Uranium
Published: June 07, 2010
Posted: June 24, 2010

Some gram-negative microorganisms are known to reduce soluble uranium to insoluble uraninite [UO2(s)] forming the basis for in situ bioremediation or natural attenuation techniques for uranium in contaminated groundwater. But do all bacteria produce the same forms of reduced uranium? New results indicate that some gram-positive bacteria such as Desulfitobacteria, common to subsurface environments, also reduce soluble uranium but produce a mononuclear uranium species that differs from the commonly observed uraninite mineral form produced by gram-negative bacteria. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Argonne National Laboratory working at the Advanced Photon Source (APS) show that Desulfitobacteria produce a form of reduced uranium that is likely coordinated with light atom shells such as C/N/O or S/P rather than the commonly observed uraninite mineral structure [UO2(s)]. The chemical identity of uranium species in subsurface environments is crucial to modeling the biogeochemical processes controlling contaminant transport at DOE sites. These results suggest that these alternate forms of reduced uranium also need to be characterized to be able to accurately predict uranium mobility/stability in reduced environments.

Reference: KE Fletcher, MI Boyanov, SH Thomas, Q. Wu, KM Kemner, FE Loeffler, (2010) Environ. Sci. Technol., 44(12): 4705-4709

Contact: Robert T. Anderson, SC 23.1, (301) 903-5549
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Subsurface Biogeochemical Research
  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities
  • Research Area: Structural Biology, Biomolecular Characterization and Imaging
  • Research Area: Structural Biology Infrastructure

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Aug 24, 2019
New Approach for Studying How Microbes Influence Their Environment
A diverse group of scientists suggests a common framework and targeting of known microbial processes [more...]

Aug 08, 2019
Nutrient-Hungry Peatland Microbes Reduce Carbon Loss Under Warmer Conditions
Enzyme production in peatlands reduces carbon lost to respiration under future high temperatures. [more...]

Aug 05, 2019
Amazon Forest Response to CO2 Fertilization Dependent on Plant Phosphorus Acquisition
AmazonFACE Model Intercomparison. The Science Plant growth is dependent on the availabi [more...]

Jul 29, 2019
A Slippery Slope: Soil Carbon Destabilization
Carbon gain or loss depends on the balance between competing biological, chemical, and physical reac [more...]

Jul 15, 2019
Field Evaluation of Gas Analyzers for Measuring Ecosystem Fluxes
How gas analyzer type and correction method impact measured fluxes. The Science A side- [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)