Fungal transformation of metallic lead to pyromorphite in liquid medium

Young Joon Rhee, Stephen Hillier, Helen Pendlowski, Geoffrey Michael Gadd (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    34 Citations (Scopus)


    Many approaches have been proposed to reduce the toxicity of hazardous substances such as lead in the environment. Several techniques using microorganisms rely on metal removal from solution by non-specific biosorption. However, immobilization of metals through formation of biominerals mediated by metabolic processes offers another solution but which has been given limited attention. In this work, we have investigated lead biomineralization by Paecilomyces javanicus, a fungus isolated from a lead-contaminated soil, in a liquid medium. P. javanicus was able to grow in the presence of metallic lead, supplied as lead shot, and secondary lead minerals were deposited on the lead surfaces as revealed by scanning electron microscopy. Energy dispersive X-ray analysis and X-ray powder diffraction revealed that pyromorphite was formed in the presence of the fungus, but not in abiotic controls. Our results clearly demonstrate that fungal activities can play an important role in lead biocorrosion and biomineralization in an aqueous environment. These findings are relevant to bioremediation approaches for liquid wastes contaminated with lead, or other metals, and also to the immobilization and biorecovery of rare or valuable elements. They also provide further understanding of microbial roles in environmental lead cycling.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)17-21
    Number of pages5
    Early online date4 May 2014
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


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