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Lead Transformation to Pyromorphite by Fungi

Lead Transformation to Pyromorphite by Fungi

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  • Young Joon Rhee
  • Stephen Hillier
  • Geoffrey Michael Gadd (Lead / Corresponding author)

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-241
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 7 Feb 2012


Lead (Pb) is a serious environmental pollutant in all its chemical forms [1]. Attempts have been made to immobilize lead in soil as the mineral pyromorphite using phosphate amendments (e.g., rock phosphate, phosphoric acid, and apatite [2-5]), although our work has demonstrated that soil fungi are able to transform pyromorphite into lead oxalate [6, 7]. Lead metal, an important structural and industrial material, is subject to weathering, and soil contamination also occurs through hunting and shooting [8, 9]. Although fungi are increasingly appreciated as geologic agents [10-12], there is a distinct lack of knowledge about their involvement in lead geochemistry. We examined the influence of fungal activity on lead metal and discovered that metallic lead can be transformed into chloropyromorphite, the most stable lead mineral that exists. This is of geochemical significance, not only regarding lead fate and cycling in the environment but also in relation to the phosphate cycle and linked with microbial transformations of inorganic and organic phosphorus. This paper provides the first report of mycogenic chloropyromorphite formation from metallic lead and highlights the significance of this phenomenon as a biotic component of lead biogeochemistry, with additional consequences for microbial survival in lead-contaminated environments and bioremedial treatments for Pb-contaminated land.



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