Bacteria play a key role in controlling the mobility of contaminants, such as uranium (U), in the environment. Uranium could be sourced from disposed radioactive waste, derived either from surface disposal trenches for Low Level Waste (LLW) that, because of the waste type and disposal concept, would typically present acidic conditions or from the geological disposal of LLW or Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) that, because of the waste type and the disposal concept, would typically present alkaline conditions. In disposed radioactive waste, there could be variable amounts of cellulosic material. Bacterial cells may be living in a range of different growth phases, depending on the growth conditions and nutrients available at the time any waste-derived U migrated to the cells. A key knowledge gap to date has been the lack of a mechanistic understanding of how bacterial growth phases (exponential, stationary, and death phase) affect the ability of bacteria to remove U(VI) from solution. To address this, we first characterised the cells using potentiometric titrations to detect any differences in proton binding to proton active sites on Pseudomonas putida cells at each growth phase under aerobic conditions, or under anaerobic conditions favourable to U(IV) reoxidation. We then conducted batch U(VI) removal experiments with bacteria at each phase suspended in 1 and 10 ppm U aqueous solutions with the pH adjusted from 2 to 12 as well as with culture concentrations from 0.01 to 10 g/L, to identify the minimal concentration of bacteria in solution necessary to affect U removal. We found that, in death phase, P. putida cells exhibited double the concentration of proton active sites than bacteria grown to exponential and stationary phase. However, we did not see a difference in the extent of U(VI) removal, from a 10 ppm U solution, between the different growth phases as a function of pH (2 to 12). Culture concentration affected U removal between pH 2–8, where U removal decreased with a decreasing concentration of cells in solution. When the pH was 10–12, ≤55% of U precipitated abiotically. The presence of bacteria in solution (0.01–10 g/L), regardless of growth phase, increased the precipitation of U from ≤55% up to 70–90%, accumulating inside the cells and on the cell walls as ~0.2 μm uranyl phosphate precipitates. These precipitates were also found at low pH with the exception of cells at exponential growth phase. This study demonstrates that growth phase affects the proton-active site concentration but not the extent of U bound to P. putida cells and that growth phase dictates the form of U removed from solution. Since the pH of trench-disposed LLW is controlled by the degradation of cellulosic waste, leading to acidic conditions (pH 4–6), bacterial concentrations would be expected to highly affect the extent of U removed from solution. The cement in grouted ILW and LLW, for geologic disposal, will allow for the development of extremely high pH values in solution (pH 9–13), where even the smallest concentrations of bacteria were able to significantly increase the removal of U from solution under aerobic conditions, or under anaerobic conditions favourable to U(IV) reoxidation.
Chemical Geology – Elsevier
Published: Apr 5, 2018
It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.
Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.
All for just $49/month
Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly
Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.
Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.
Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.
All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.
“Hi guys, I cannot tell you how much I love this resource. Incredible. I really believe you've hit the nail on the head with this site in regards to solving the research-purchase issue.”Daniel C.
“Whoa! It’s like Spotify but for academic articles.”@Phil_Robichaud
“I must say, @deepdyve is a fabulous solution to the independent researcher's problem of #access to #information.”@deepthiw
“My last article couldn't be possible without the platform @deepdyve that makes journal papers cheaper.”@JoseServera