Navigation Links
Fungi have a hand in depleted uranium's environmental fate
Date:5/4/2008

Fungi may have an important role to play in the fate of potentially dangerous depleted uranium left in the environment after recent war campaigns, according to a new report in the May 6th issue of Current Biology, a publication of Cell Press.

The researchers found evidence that fungi can lock depleted uranium into a mineral form that may be less likely to find its way into plants, animals, or the water supply.

This work provides yet another example of the incredible properties of microorganisms in effecting transformations of metals and minerals in the natural environment, said Geoffrey Gadd of the University of Dundee in Scotland. Because fungi are perfectly suited as biogeochemical agents, often dominate the biota in polluted soils, and play a major role in the establishment and survival of plants through their association with roots, fungal-based approaches should not be neglected in remediation attempts for metal-polluted soils.

The testing of depleted-uranium ammunition and its recent use in Iraq and the Balkans has led to contamination of the environment with the unstable metal, Gadd explained. Depleted uranium differs from natural uranium in the balance of isotopes it contains. It is the byproduct of uranium enrichment for use in nuclear reactors or nuclear weapons and is valued for its very high density. Although less radioactive than natural uranium, depleted uranium is just as toxic and poses a threat to people.

In the new study, the researchers found that free-living and plant symbiotic (mycorrhizal) fungi can colonize depleted-uranium surfaces and transform the metal into uranyl phosphate minerals.

While they probably still pose some threat, he said, The fungal-produced minerals are capable of long-term uranium retention, so this may help prevent uptake of uranium by plants, animals, and microbes. It might also prevent the spent uranium from leaching out from the soil.

Gadd said that a combination of environmental and biological factors is involved in the process. First, the unstable uranium metal gets coated with a layer of oxides. Moisture in the environment also corrodes the depleted uranium, encouraging fungal colonization and growth. While the fungi grow, they produce acidic substances, which corrode the depleted uranium even further. Some of the substances produced include organic acids that convert the uranium into a form that the fungi can take up or that can interact with other compounds. Ultimately, he said, the interaction of soluble forms of uranium with phosphate leads to the formation of the new uranium minerals that get deposited around the fungal biomass.

We have shown for the first time that fungi can transform metallic uranium into minerals, which are capable of long-term uranium retention, the researchers concluded. This phenomenon could be relevant to the future development of various remediation and revegetation techniques for uranium-polluted soils.


'/>"/>

Contact: Cathleen Genova
cgenova@cell.com
617-397-2802
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Fungi can tell us about the origin of sex chromosomes
2. Secrets of cooperation between trees and fungi revealed
3. Mechanisms of plant-fungi symbiosis characterized by DOE Joint Genome Institute
4. Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa commits 180M to revive farmers depleted soils
5. Environmental fate of nanoparticles depends on properties of water carrying them
6. Stevens Center for Science Writings honors environmental critics with Green Book Award, April 30
7. Environmental enrichment can reduce cocaine use, researchers find
8. Outstanding undergraduates recognized in agronomy, crop, soil, and environmental sciences
9. Harold Mooney wins prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement
10. Winners of 2008 Tyler Environmental Prize announced
11. Turtle studies suggest health risks from environmental contaminants
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/11/2017)... 11, 2017 Research and Markets has announced ... report to their offering. ... global eye tracking market to grow at a CAGR of 30.37% ... Tracking Market 2017-2021, has been prepared based on an in-depth market ... landscape and its growth prospects over the coming years. The report ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... 5, 2017 Today HYPR Corp. , ... server component of the HYPR platform is officially ... end-to-end security architecture that empowers biometric authentication across Fortune ... already secured over 15 million users across the financial ... connected home product suites and physical access represent a ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... , March 30, 2017 The research ... system for three-dimensional (3D) fingerprint identification by adopting ground breaking 3D ... a new realm of speed and accuracy for use in identification, ... an affordable cost. ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/16/2017)... ... August 16, 2017 , ... ... and Electrospraying line of nanofiber and nanoparticle fabrication instruments from ... lab to fully automated pilot plants and equipment for industrial manufacturing. All ...
(Date:8/16/2017)... ... August 16, 2017 , ... ... and Drug Administration (FDA) inspection at our Dilworth, MN site. The inspection took ... This inspection was conducted as part of a routine Bioresearch Monitoring Program (BIMO) ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... ... 15, 2017 , ... Kapstone Medical is proud to announce that ... technology companies and inventors develop and safeguard their latest innovations. The company has ... a portfolio of clients in the United States and around the world. , ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... Wisconsin (PRWEB) , ... August 15, 2017 , ... ... a new family of 6” modular downlights designed to stay tightly sealed and ... including areas where damp and wet location listings just aren't enough, such as: ...
Breaking Biology Technology: