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Microbial transformations of actinides in the environment

Microbial transformations of actinides in the environment

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  • F. R. Livens
  • M. Al-Bokari
  • M. Fomina
  • G. M. Gadd
  • A. Geissler
  • J. R. Lloyd
  • J. C. Renshaw
  • D. J. Vaughan

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Original languageEnglish
Article number012039
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalIOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010
EventActinides Conference - San Francisco, United States


The diversity of microorganisms is still far from understood, although many examples of the microbial biotransformation of stable, pollutant and radioactive elements, involving Bacteria, Archaea and Fungi, are known. In estuarine sediments from the Irish Sea basin, which have been labelled by low level effluent discharges, there is evidence of an annual cycle in Pu solubility, and microcosm experiments have demonstrated both shifts in the bacterial community and changes in Pu solubility as a result of changes in redox conditions. In the laboratory, redox transformation of both U and Pu by Geobacter sulfurreducens has been demonstrated and EXAFS spectroscopy has been used to understand the inability of G. sufurreducens to reduce Np(V). Fungi promote corrosion of metallic U alloy through production of a range of carboxylic acid metabolites, and are capable of translocating the dissolved U before precipitating it externally to the hyphae, as U(VI) phosphate phases. These examples illustrate the far-reaching but complex effects which microorganisms can have on actinide behaviour.

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