Solution and microbial controls on the formation of reduced U(IV) species

Maxim I. Boyanov, Kelly E. Fletcher, Man Jae Kwon, Xue Rui, Edward J. O'Loughlin, Frank E. Löffler, Kenneth M. Kemner

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112 Citations (Scopus)


Reduction of U VI to U IV as the result of direct or indirect microbial activity is currently being explored for in situ remediation of subsurface U plumes, under the assumption that U IV solubility is controlled by the low-solubility mineral uraninite (U IV-dioxide). However, recent characterizations of U in sediments from biostimulated field sites, as well as laboratory U VI bioreduction studies, report on the formation of U IV species that lack the U=O 2=U coordination of uraninite, suggesting that phases other than uraninite may be controlling U IV solubility in environments with complexing surfaces and ligands. To determine the controls on the formation of such nonuraninite U IV species, the current work studied the reduction of carbonate-complexed U VI by (1) five Gram-positive Desulfitobacterium strains, (2) the Gram-negative bacteria Anaeromyxobacter dehalogenans 2CP-C and Shewanella putrefaciens CN32, and (3) chemically reduced 9,10-anthrahydroquinone-2,6- disulfonate (AH 2QDS, a soluble reductant). Further, the effects of 0.3 mM dissolved phosphate on U IV species formation were explored. Extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) spectroscopy analysis demonstrated that the addition of phosphate causes the formation of a nonuraninite, phosphate-complexed U IV species, independent of the biological or abiotic mode of U VI reduction. In phosphate-free medium, U VI reduction by Desulfitobacterium spp. and by AH 2QDS resulted in nonuraninite, carbonate-complexed U IV species, whereas reduction by Anaeromyxobacter or Shewanella yielded nanoparticulate uraninite. These findings suggest that the Gram-positive Desulfitobacterium strains and the Gram-negative Anaeromyxobacter and Shewanella species use distinct mechanisms to reduce U VI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8336-8344
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Oct 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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