Navigation Links
Microbes generate electricity while cleaning up nuclear waste
Date:9/6/2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. Researchers at Michigan State University have unraveled the mystery of how microbes generate electricity while cleaning up nuclear waste and other toxic metals.

Details of the process, which can be improved and patented, are published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The implications could eventually benefit sites forever changed by nuclear contamination, said Gemma Reguera, MSU microbiologist.

"Geobacter bacteria are tiny micro-organisms that can play a major role in cleaning up polluted sites around the world," said Reguera, who is an MSU AgBioResearch scientist. "Uranium contamination can be produced at any step in the production of nuclear fuel, and this process safely prevents its mobility and the hazard for exposure."

The ability of Geobacter to immobilize uranium has been well documented. However, identifying the Geobacters' conductive pili or nanowires as doing the yeoman's share of the work is a new revelation. Nanowires, hair-like appendages found on the outside of Geobacters, are the managers of electrical activity during a cleanup.

"Our findings clearly identify nanowires as being the primary catalyst for uranium reduction," Reguera said. "They are essentially performing nature's version of electroplating with uranium, effectively immobilizing the radioactive material and preventing it from leaching into groundwater."

The nanowires also shield Geobacter and allow the bacteria to thrive in a toxic environment, she added.

Their effectiveness was proven during a cleanup in a uranium mill tailings site in Rifle, Colo. Researchers injected acetate into contaminated groundwater. Since this is Geobacters' preferred food, it stimulated the growth of the Geobacter community already in the soil, which in turn, worked to remove the uranium, Reguera said.

Reguera and her team of researchers were able to genetically engineer a Geobacter strain with enhanced nanowire production. The modified version improved the efficiency of the bacteria's ability to immobilize uranium proportionally to the number of nanowires while subsequently improving its viability as a catalytic cell.

Reguera has filed patents to build on her research, which could lead to the development of microbial fuel cells capable of generating electricity while cleaning up after environmental disasters.


'/>"/>

Contact: Layne Cameron
layne.cameron@ur.msu.edu
517-353-8817
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. Microbes, Inc. Extends Warrant Tender Offer
2. SRNLs microbes useful for for environmental cleanup and oil recovery
3. Hidden diversity in key environmental cleanup microbes found by systems biology assessment
4. Microbes reprogrammed to ooze oil for renewable biofuel
5. MO BIO Laboratories, Inc. DNA Isolation Products Used to Analyze Microbes Present in Deepwater Horizon Oil Plume
6. Exposing ZnO nanorods to visible light removes microbes
7. Discovery opens the door to electricity from microbes
8. New research reveals soil microbes accelerate global warming
9. Governor Rendell Says Life Science Industry Will Fuel New Breakthroughs, Generate Jobs for Decades to Come
10. Swine Flu Fears Generate Interest in UV Disinfection Technologies...Again
11. Rock-breathing bacteria could generate electricity and clean up oil spills
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/27/2016)... 2016  Sequenom, Inc. (NASDAQ: SQNM ), ... through the development of innovative products and services, announced ... United States denied its petition to review ... Sequenom,s U.S. Patent No. 6,258,540 (",540 Patent") are not ... the Supreme Court,s Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... Rolf ... join the faculty of the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School ... and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler, with a focus on the school’s international efforts, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... SAN DIEGO , June 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... that more sensitively detects cancers susceptible to PARP ... individual circulating tumor cells (CTCs). The new test ... of HRD-targeted therapeutics in multiple cancer types. ... therapies targeting DNA damage response pathways, including PARP, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... announce the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The ... is proud to add Target to its list of well-respected retailers. This list ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:6/21/2016)... Columbia , June 21, 2016 ... to the new role of principal product architect ... named the director of customer development. Both will ... chief technical officer. The moves reflect NuData,s strategic ... in response to high customer demand and customer ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... Paris Police Prefecture and ... ensure the safety of people and operations in several locations ... Teleste, an international technology group specialised in broadband ... its video security solution will be utilised by ... across the country. The system roll-out is scheduled for the ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... Perimeter Surveillance & Detection Systems, Biometrics & ... & Other Service  The latest report from ... of the global Border Security market . Visiongain ... billion in 2016. Now: In November 2015 ... and hardware technologies for advanced video surveillance. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):