Fungal bioweathering of mimetite and a general geomycological model for lead apatite mineral biotransformations

Andrea Ceci, Martin Kierans, Stephen Hillier, Anna Maria Persiani, Geoffrey Michael Gadd (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Fungi play important roles in biogeochemical processes such as organic matter decomposition, bioweathering of minerals and rocks, and metal transformations and therefore influence elemental cycles for essential and potentially toxic elements, e.g., P, S, Pb, and As. Arsenic is a potentially toxic metalloid for most organisms and naturally occurs in trace quantities in soil, rocks, water, air, and living organisms. Among more than 300 arsenic minerals occurring in nature, mimetite [Pb5(AsO4)3Cl] is the most stable lead arsenate and holds considerable promise in metal stabilization for in situ and ex situ sequestration and remediation through precipitation, as do other insoluble lead apatites, such as pyromorphite [Pb5(PO4)3Cl] and vanadinite [Pb5(VO4)3Cl]. Despite the insolubility of mimetite, the organic acid-producing soil fungus Aspergillus niger was able to solubilize mimetite with simultaneous precipitation of lead oxalate as a new mycogenic biomineral. Since fungal biotransformation of both pyromorphite and vanadinite has been previously documented, a new biogeochemical model for the biogenic transformation of lead apatites (mimetite, pyromorphite, and vanadinite) by fungi is hypothesized in this study by application of geochemical modeling together with experimental data. The models closely agreed with experimental data and provided accurate simulation of As and Pb complexation and biomineral formation dependent on, e.g., pH, cation-anion composition, and concentration. A general pattern for fungal biotransformation of lead apatite minerals is proposed, proving new understanding of ecological implications of the biogeochemical cycling of component elements as well as industrial applications in metal stabilization, bioremediation, and biorecovery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4955-4964
Number of pages10
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number15
Early online date15 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Fungal bioweathering of mimetite and a general geomycological model for lead apatite mineral biotransformations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this