Promoting Uranium Immobilization by the Activities of Microbial Phosphatases

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The overall objective of this project is to examine the activity of nonspecific phosphohydrolases present in naturally occurring subsurface microorganisms for the purpose of promoting the immobilization of radionuclides through the production of uranium [U(VI)] phosphate precipitates. Specifically, we hypothesize that the precipitation of U(VI) phosphate minerals may be promoted through the microbial release and/or accumulation of PO4 3- as a means to detoxify radionuclides and heavy metals. An experimental approach was designed to determine the extent of phosphatase activity in bacteria previously isolated from contaminated subsurface soils collected at the ERSP Field Research Center (FRC) in Oak Ridge, TN. ... continued below

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Martinez, Robert J.; Beazley, Melanie J.; Webb, Samuel M.; Taillefert, Martial & Sobecky, Patricia A. April 19, 2007.

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Description

The overall objective of this project is to examine the activity of nonspecific phosphohydrolases present in naturally occurring subsurface microorganisms for the purpose of promoting the immobilization of radionuclides through the production of uranium [U(VI)] phosphate precipitates. Specifically, we hypothesize that the precipitation of U(VI) phosphate minerals may be promoted through the microbial release and/or accumulation of PO4 3- as a means to detoxify radionuclides and heavy metals. An experimental approach was designed to determine the extent of phosphatase activity in bacteria previously isolated from contaminated subsurface soils collected at the ERSP Field Research Center (FRC) in Oak Ridge, TN. Screening of 135 metal resistant isolates for phosphatase activity indicated the majority (75 of 135) exhibited a phosphatase-positive phenotype. During this phase of the project, a PCR based approach has also been designed to assay FRC isolates for the presence of one or more classes of the characterized non-specific acid phophastase (NSAP) genes likely to be involved in promoting U(VI) precipitation. Testing of a subset of Pb resistant (Pbr) Arthrobacter, Bacillus and Rahnella strains indicated 4 of the 9 Pbr isolates exhibited phosphatase phenotypes suggestive of the ability to bioprecipitate U(VI). Two FRC strains, a Rahnella sp. strain Y9602 and a Bacillus sp. strain Y9-2, were further characterized. The Rahnella sp. exhibited enhanced phosphatase activity relative to the Bacillus sp. Whole-cell enzyme assays identified a pH optimum of 5.5, and inorganic phosphate accumulated in pH 5.5 synthetic groundwater (designed to mimic FRC conditions) incubations of both strains in the presence of a model organophosphorus substrate provided as the sole C and P source. Kinetic experiments showed that these two organisms can grow in the presence of 200 μM dissolved uranium and that Rahnella is much more efficient in precipitating U(VI) than Bacillus sp. The precipitation of U(VI) must be mediated by biological activity as less than 3% soluble U(VI) was removed either from the abiotic or the heat-killed cell controls. Interestingly, the pH has a strong effect on growth and U(VI) biomineralization rates by Rahnella. Thermodynamic modeling identifies autunite-type minerals [Ca(UO2)2(PO4)2] as the precipitate likely formed in the synthetic FRC groundwater conditions at all pH investigated. Extended X-ray absorption fine structure measurements have recently confirmed that the precipitate found in these incubations is an autunite and meta-autunite-type mineral. A kinetic model of U biomineralization at the different pH indicates that hydrolysis of organophosphate can be described using simple Monod kinetics and that uranium precipitation is accelerated when monohydrogen phosphate is the main orthophosphate species in solution. Overall, these experiments and ongoing soil slurry incubations demonstrate that the biomineralization of U(VI) through the activity of phosphatase enzymes can be expressed in a wide range of geochemical conditions pertaining to the FRC site.

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  • Annual Environmental Remediation Science Program (ERSP) Principal Investigator Meeting, April 16-19, 2007, Lansdowne, VA

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  • Report No.: CONF-ERSP2007/1024775
  • Grant Number: None
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 925439
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc901107

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  • April 19, 2007

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • July 13, 2017, 3:15 p.m.

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Martinez, Robert J.; Beazley, Melanie J.; Webb, Samuel M.; Taillefert, Martial & Sobecky, Patricia A. Promoting Uranium Immobilization by the Activities of Microbial Phosphatases, article, April 19, 2007; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc901107/: accessed November 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.