Influence of microorganisms on the environmental fate of radionuclides

Geoffrey Michael Gadd (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    104 Citations (Scopus)


    Microorganisms have a significant influence on the environmental fate of radionuclides in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems with a multiplicity of physico-chemical and biological mechanisms effecting changes in mobility and speciation. Physico-chemical mechanisms of removal include association with extracellular materials, metabolites and cell walls which are features of living and dead organisms. In living cells, some physico-chemical processes are reversible, influenced by metabolism and changing environmental conditions. Metabolism-dependent mechanisms of radionuclide immobilization include sulphide precipitation, transport and intracellular compartmentation and/or sequestration by proteins and peptides. In addition, chemical reduction to less soluble forms can result in immobilization. Microbial processes involved in radionuclide solubilization include autotrophic and heterotrophic leaching, and complexation by siderophores and other metabolites. Such mechanisms are important components of biogeochemical cycles for radionuclides and should be considered in any analyses of environmental radionuclide contamination. In addition, several microorganism-based biotechnologies are receiving interest as potential treatment methods.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)150-156
    Number of pages7
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1996

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • History and Philosophy of Science


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