The Geomycology of Elemental Cycling and Transformations in the Environment

Geoffrey Michael Gadd (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
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Geomicrobiology addresses the roles of microorganisms in geological and geochemical processes, and geomycology is a part of this topic focusing on the fungi. Geoactive roles of fungi include organic and inorganic transformations important in nutrient and element cycling, rock and mineral bioweathering, mycogenic biomineral formation, and metal-fungal interactions. Lichens and mycorrhizas are significant geoactive agents. Organic matter decomposition is important for cycling of major biomass-associated elements, e.g., C, H, N, O, P, and S, as well as all other elements found in lower concentrations. Transformations of metals and minerals are central to geomicrobiology, and fungi affect changes in metal speciation, as well as mediate mineral formation or dissolution. Such mechanisms are components of biogeochemical cycles for metals as well as associated elements in biomass, soil, rocks, and minerals, e.g., S, P, and metalloids. Fungi may have the greatest geochemical influence within the terrestrial environment. However, they are also important in the aquatic environment and are significant components of the deep subsurface, extreme environments, and habitats polluted by xenobiotics, metals, and radionuclides. Applications of geomycology include metal and radionuclide bioleaching, biorecovery, detoxification, bioremediation, and the production of biominerals or metal(loid) elements with catalytic or other properties. Adverse effects include biodeterioration of natural and synthetic materials, rock and mineral-based building materials (e.g., concrete), cultural heritage, metals, alloys, and related substances and adverse effects on radionuclide mobility and containment. The ubiquity and importance of fungi in the biosphere underline the importance of geomycology as a conceptual framework encompassing the environmental activities of fungi.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2017


  • Geomycology
  • geomicrobiology
  • elemental cycling
  • metal-mineral transformations
  • bioremediation
  • biomineralization


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