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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1997 Sep 1;154(1):29-35.

Solubilisation of some naturally occurring metal-bearing minerals, limescale and lead phosphate by Aspergillus niger.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Dundee, UK.


The ability of the soil fungus Aspergillus niger to tolerate and solubilise seven naturally occurring metal-bearing minerals, limescale and lead phosphate was investigated. A. niger was able to solubilise four of the test insoluble compounds when incorporated into solid medium: cuprite (CuO2), galena (PbS), rhodochrosite (Mn(CO3)x) and limescale (CaCO3). A. niger was able to grow on all concentrations of all the test compounds, whether solubilisation occurred or not, with no reduction in growth rate from the control. In some cases, stimulation of growth occurred, most marked with the phosphate-containing mineral, apatite. Precipitation of insoluble copper and manganese oxalate crystals under colonies growing on agar amended with cuprite and rhodochrosite was observed after 1-2 days growth at 25 degrees C. This process of oxalate formation represents a reduction in bioavailability of toxic cations, and could represent an important means of toxic metal immobilisation of physiological and environmental significance.

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