Soil dissolved organic matter affects mercury immobilization by biogenic selenium nanoparticles

Xiaonan Wang, Xiangliang Pan (Lead / Corresponding author), Geoffrey Michael Gadd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


Molecular weight (MW) heterogeneity is a fundamental property of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in soil, which has been demonstrated to influence the binding behaviour between DOM and engineered nanoparticles. In the present study, DOM, extracted from black soil, was dialyzed into four fractions: above 10,000 Da, 3500–10,000 Da, 1000–3500 Da and 100–1000 Da. Homoaggregation and fluorescence quenching titration of selenium nanoparticles (SeNPs) was examined in the presence of the different DOM fractions, as well as the consequences for immobilization of elemental mercury. It was found that the intermediate MW fraction (3500–10,000 Da) rather than the high MW DOM fraction was likely to adsorb to SeNPs. Generally, low MW DOM was expected to adsorb initially due to faster diffusion and these compounds would be displaced by high MW DOM over longer time period. However, the electrostatic barrier imparted by adsorbed DOM limited such displacement, leading to preferential adsorption of the intermediate MW fraction over the high MW fraction. Adsorbed DOM fractions, especially that of intermediate MW, enhanced the stability of SeNPs which favoured immobilization of elemental mercury. These findings show that MW exerts an important impact on DOM binding with SeNPs which, in consequence, governs the fate of SeNPs and mercury bioremediation performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-15
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date12 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2019


  • Adsorption
  • Dissolved organic matter
  • Mercury immobilization
  • Molecular weight
  • Selenium nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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