Fungal-induced CaCO3 and SrCO3 precipitation: a potential strategy for bioprotection of concrete

Jiayue Zhao, Laszlo Csetenyi, Geoffrey Michael Gadd (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
205 Downloads (Pure)


Biomineralization of CaCO3 by microorganisms is a well-documented process considered applicable to concrete self-healing and metal bioremediation. Urea hydrolysis is the most widely explored and efficient pathway regarding concrete bioprotection. However, the potential of fungi has received relatively little attention compared to bacteria. In this work, we show that Fusarium cerealis, Phoma herbarum and Mucor hiemalis, isolated from concrete, could produce 828.6-941.3 mg L-1 ammonium‑nitrogen in liquid media through urea hydrolysis indicating significant urease activity, and could grow in moderate (pH 8.3) or even extremely alkaline (pH 10.6) conditions. After culture in media containing 50 mM CaCl2, at least 48.8% Ca2+ was removed from solution by the selected fungi as calcite. The accumulation of Ca by the biomass was around 83.64-114.21 mg g-1. In addition, all fungi could mediate strontium carbonate formation with F. cerealis processing the highest ability for Sr removal, with ~61% added Sr being removed from solution. Scanning electron microscopy showed carbonate biominerals were encrusted on hyphae or aggregated in fungal pellets. When equivalent concentrations of Ca2+ and Sr2+ were supplemented to the media, CaCO3 with incorporated Sr formed with F. cerealis and M. hiemalis, and Sr(Sr, Ca)(CO3)2 with P. herbarum. Our results demonstrate the potential of fungi in providing carbonate coatings for concrete surfaces and simultaneous immobilization of Sr. We anticipate our work will promote further practical field research on porous cementitious materials protection by fungi and immobilization of potentially toxic metals from metal-laden ingredients, such as fly ash and granulated ground blast furnace slag.

Original languageEnglish
Article number151501
Number of pages13
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date8 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2022


  • Calcite
  • Fungal-induced carbonate precipitation
  • Fungi
  • Strontianite
  • Strontium
  • Ureolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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