Microbial reduction of uranium

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REDUCTION of the soluble, oxidized form of uranium, U(VI), to insoluble U(IV) is an important mechanism for the immobilization of uranium in aquatic sediments and for the formation of some uranium ores1-10. U(VI) reduction has generally been regarded as an abiological reaction in which sulphide, molecular hydrogen or organic compounds function as the reductant1,2,5,11. Microbial involvement in U(VI) reduction has been considered to be limited to indirect effects, such as microbial metabolism providing the reduced compounds for abiological U(VI) reduction and microbial cell walls providing a surface to stimulate abiological U(VI) reduction1,12,13. We report here, however, that dissimilatory Fe(III)-reducing microorganisms can obtain energy for growth by electron transport to U(VI). This novel form of microbial metabolism can be much faster than commonly cited abiological mechanisms for U(VI) reduction. Not only do these findings expand the known potential terminal electron acceptors for microbial energy transduction, they offer a likely explanation for the deposition of uranium in aquatic sediments and aquifers, and suggest a method for biological remediation of environments contaminated with uranium.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Microbial reduction of uranium
Series title Nature
Volume 350
Issue 6317
Year Published 1991
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Nature
First page 413
Last page 416