Removal of selenate from sulfate-containing media by sulfate-reducing bacterial biofilms

Simon Hockin, Geoffrey M. Gadd

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    55 Citations (Scopus)


    A biofilm-selected strain of a Desulfomicrobium sp. removed selenate from solution to sub-micromolar concentrations during growth on lactate (or hydrogen) and sulfate. Under sulfate-limited growth conditions, selenium was enzymatically reduced to selenide. Under excess sulfate conditions, selenate removal was primarily by enzymatic reduction to elemental selenium. Sequestration by biofilms was greater under the latter condition. Experiments with washed cell suspensions showed that high sulfate concentrations inhibited cell-specific selenate reduction, but when growing cells were exposed to selenate, the biomass increase achieved during incubations with abundant sulfate resulted in more rapid selenate removal. The addition of small amounts of sulfite, or thiosulfate, ameliorated this inhibition. Nitrate also inhibited selenate reduction in washed cell suspensions, apparently due to a general oxidizing effect. These results suggest that where biofilm-based sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) bioreactors are considered for the treatment of mixed metalliferous wastes that contain selenium oxyanions, adequate selenate removal should be achievable under a range of environmental conditions. The form and fate of the precipitated product will, however, be influenced by the dominant reduction pathway, which is controlled by environmental variables.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)816-826
    Number of pages11
    JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2006


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