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Environ Sci Technol. 2008 Aug 1;42(15):5527-33.

A structural study of cadmium interaction with aquatic microorganisms.

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Laboratoire des Mécanismes et Transferts en Géologie (LMTG), UMR 5563, CNRS-OMP-Université Toulouse, 14 Avenue Edouard Belin, 31400 Toulouse, France.


The molecular mechanisms of cadmium toxicity for aquatic phototrophic microorganisms, reversible adsorption on the surface, and cellular uptake during growth were investigated by combining batch macroscopic experiments with atomic-level in situ Cd K-edge X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy. The following species were examined: marine planktonic (Skeletonema costatum, Thalassiossira weissflogil) and freshwater periphytic (Navicula minima, Achnanthidium minutissum) diatoms, cyanobacteria (Gloeocapsa sp.), anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria (Rhodopseudomonas palustris), and freshwater diatom-dominated biofilms. Upon short-term adsorption at the freshwater diatoms and cyanobacteria cell surface from a NaNO3 or NaCl solution, Cd is octahedrally coordinated by oxygen at an average distance of 2.27 +/- 0.02 angstroms and is associated with carboxylate groups. The atomic environment of cadmium incorporated into freshwater diatoms during long-term growth (operationally defined as Cd nonextracted by EDTA) is similar to that of adsorbed metal in terms of Cd-O first-shell distances and coordination numbers. Contrasting speciation is found for Cd incorporated into marine diatoms and adsorbed onto phototrophic anoxygenic bacteria R. palustris, where Cd is coordinated with three to five oxygen/nitrogen atoms and one to three sulfur atoms in the first atomic shell, likely in the form of cysteine/hystidine complexes or Cd-thiolate clusters. The Cd association with sulfhydryl groups in marine planktonic diatoms and anoxygenic bacteria is an important feature of Cd binding which can be useful for assessing the bioavailability of this metal.

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