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Environ Sci Technol. 2004 Nov 1;38(21):5649-55.

Microbial reduction of U(VI) at the solid-water interface.

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Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487-0206, USA.


Microbial (Geobacter sulfurreducens) reduction of 0.1 mM U(VI) in the presence of synthetic Fe(III) oxides and natural Fe(III) oxide-containing solids was investigated in pH 6.8 artificial groundwater containing 10 mM NaHCO3. In most experiments, more than 95% of added U(VI) was sorbed to solids, so that U(VI) reduction was governed by reactions at the solid-water interface. The rate and extent of reduction of U(VI) associated with surfaces of synthetic Fe(III) oxides (hydrous ferric oxide, goethite, and hematite) was comparable to that observed during reduction of aqueous U(VI). In contrast, microbial reduction of U(VI) sorbed to several different natural Fe(III) oxide-containing solids was slower and less extensive compared to synthetic Fe(III) oxide systems. Addition of the electron shuttling agent anthraquinone-2,6-disulfonate (AQDS; 0.1 mM) enhanced the rate and extent of both Fe(III) and U(VI) reduction. These findings suggest that AQDS facilitated electron transfer from G. sulfurreducens to U(VI) associated with surface sites atwhich direct enzymatic reduction was kinetically limited. Our results demonstrate that association of U(VI) with diverse surface sites in natural soils and sediments has the potential to limit the rate and extent of microbial U(VI) reduction and thereby modulate the effectiveness of in situ U(VI) bioremediation.

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