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

BER Research Highlights

Fungus Study Offers Insights About Biogeochemical Cycling, Bioremediation
Published: May 11, 2011
Posted: May 31, 2011

Users at the DOE Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) have helped fill a gap in the research community's knowledge about the role of fungi and manganese (Mn) oxides in biogeochemical cycling and bioremediation. Mn is a contaminant commonly found in coal mine drainage. Though high concentrations of soluble Mn, such as the reduced Mn(II) ion, can be problematic, Mn oxides, whose formation is readily stimulated by bacteria and fungi, can be quite helpful. These highly reactive compounds play a role in the cycling of nutrients and carbon in the soil and water, and, importantly, they can serve as bioremediating agents by scavenging metals. Previous Mn studies have centered on bacteria, but the role of fungi in Mn(II) oxidation and subsequent Mn oxide formation is just as important. The research team fully characterized the Mn oxides produced by four different species of fungi isolated from coal mine drainage treatment systems in central Pennsylvania by integrating a broad suite of microscopy and spectroscopy tools, including high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM) equipped with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy at EMSL and X-ray absorption spectroscopy at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. Their studies revealed that the species, growth conditions, and cellular structures of fungi influence the size, morphology, and structure—and, therefore, reactivity—of the Mn oxides. Their results underline the importance of species diversity in biogeochemical cycling and bioremediation. This project was funded by the National Science Foundation. Portions of the work were performed at EMSL, a national scientific user facility located at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Reference: Santelli, C. M., S. M. Webb, A. C. Dohnalkova, and C. M. Hansel. 2011. "Diversity of Mn Oxides Produced by Mn(II)-Oxidizing Fungi," Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 75(10), 2762–76. (Reference Link)

Contact: Paul E. Bayer, SC-23.1, (301) 903-5324
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Subsurface Biogeochemical Research
  • Research Area: DOE Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
  • Research Area: Structural Biology Infrastructure
  • Research Area: Research Technologies and Methodologies

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


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