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Biodegradation. 2010 Feb;21(1):81-95. doi: 10.1007/s10532-009-9283-x. Epub 2009 Jul 14.

Can microbially-generated hydrogen sulfide account for the rates of U(VI) reduction by a sulfate-reducing bacterium?

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, 473 Via Ortega, Yang and Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building 151, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


In situ remediation of uranium contaminated soil and groundwater is attractive because a diverse range of microbial and abiotic processes reduce soluble and mobile U(VI) to sparingly soluble and immobile U(IV). Often these processes are linked. Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), for example, enzymatically reduce U(VI) to U(IV), but they also produce hydrogen sulfide that can itself reduce U(VI). This study evaluated the relative importance of these processes for Desulfovibrio aerotolerans, a SRB isolated from a U(VI)-contaminated site. For the conditions evaluated, the observed rate of SRB-mediated U(VI) reduction can be explained by the abiotic reaction of U(VI) with the microbially-generated H(2)S. The presence of trace ferrous iron appeared to enhance the extent of hydrogen sulfide-mediated U(VI) reduction at 5 mM bicarbonate, but had no clear effect at 15 mM. During the hydrogen sulfide-mediated reduction of U(VI), a floc formed containing uranium and sulfur. U(VI) sequestered in the floc was not available for further reduction.

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