Microbial mobilization of uranium from shale mine waste
Journal article, 2006

The alum shale in the Billingen area in southern Sweden was mined in Ranstad for 5 years during the 1960s. The crushed tailings (processed and unprocessed) were left behind when the Ranstad mine was closed that has caused leaching of metals to the surroundings. The siderophore producing bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens (Äspö, SE Sweden) was grown in batch cultures for 5 to 8 days with naturally weathered (unprocessed) uranium ore (0.0029% U by weight), kolm (0.52% U by weight) and acid-leached ore (0.0099% U by weight) in chemically defined media (unbuffered and buffered). Pseudomonas fluorescens grown with ore and unbuffered medium changed the pH from 4.7 to 9.3 and leached out 0.016 to 0.9% (normalized to surface area) of the total amount of U from the different ores. Incubation of the acid-leached ore with bacteria in buffered medium leached out 0.04% of the total U. Uranium was leached out selectively at all conditions, but this could be a pH effect, as pH increased at the same time as the U concentrations did. The observed release of Fe was most likely attributed to the production of microbial siderophores (Fe 3+ specific chelators) since Fe 3+ has a low solubility at pH > 4. As siderophores contain a number of chelating groups they may still function as complexators even in partly degraded form also for other metals than Fe. Thus, the production of microbial chelators could contribute to the elevated metal concentrations in the drainage water from the closed Ranstad mine, as abiotic processes cannot fully explain these high metal concentrations. In the extension: ligand promoted leaching of toxic elements could also be the key to bioremediation as there is a need for nontoxic cleanup methods for metal contaminated sites


Birgitta E. Kalinowski

University of Gothenburg

Anna Johnsson

University of Gothenburg

Johanna Arlinger

University of Gothenburg

Karsten Pedersen

University of Gothenburg

Arvid Ödegård Jensen

Chalmers, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Nuclear Chemistry

F. Edberg

Stockholm University

Geomicrobiology Journal

0149-0451 (ISSN) 1521-0529 (eISSN)

Vol. 23 3-4 157-164

Subject Categories

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology



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3/1/2018 7