Immobilization of cobalt by sulfate-reducing bacteria in subsurface sediments

Geomicrobiology Journal
By: , and 



We investigated the impact of sulfate-reduction on immobilization of metals in subsurface aquifers. Co 2+ was used as a model for heavy metals. Factors limiting sulfate-reduction dependent Co 2+ immobilization were tested on pure cultures of sulfate-reducing bacteria, and in sediment columns from a landfill leachate contaminated aquifer. In the presence of 1 mM Co 2+ , the growth of pure cultures of sulfate-reducing bacteria was not impacted. Cultures of Desulfovibrio desulfuricans, Desulfotomaculum gibsoniae , and Desulfomicrobium hypogeia removed greater than 99.99% of the soluble Co 2+ when CoCl 2 was used with no chelators. The above cultures and Desulfoarcula baarsi removed 98-99.94% of the soluble Co(II) when the metal was complexed with the model ligand nitrilotriacetate (Co-NTA). Factors controlling the rate of sulfate-reduction based Co 2+ precipitation were investigated in sediment-cobalt mixtures. Several electron donors were tested and all but toluene accelerated soluble Co 2+ loss. Ethanol and formate showed the greatest stimulation. All complex nitrogen sources tested slowed and decreased the extent of Co 2+ removal from solution relative to formate-amended sediment incubations. A range of pH values were tested (6.35-7.81), with the more alkaline incubations exhibiting the largest precipitation of Co 2+ . The immobilization of Co 2+ in sediments was also investigated with cores to monitor the flow of Co 2+ through undisturbed sediments. An increase in the amount of Co 2+ immobilized as CoS was observed as sulfate reduction activity was stimulated in flow through columns. Both pure culture and sediment incubation data indicate that stimulation of sulfate reduction is a viable strategy in the immobilization of contaminating metals in subsurface systems.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Immobilization of cobalt by sulfate-reducing bacteria in subsurface sediments
Series title Geomicrobiology Journal
DOI 10.1080/01490450303892
Volume 20
Issue 1
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 12 p.
First page 61
Last page 72
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