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Title: From Nanowires to Biofilms: An Exploration of Novel Mechanisms of Uranium Transformation Mediated by Geobacter Bacteria

One promising strategy for the in situ bioremediation of radioactive groundwater contaminants that has been identified by the SBR Program is to stimulate the activity of dissimilatory metal-reducing microorganisms to reductively precipitate uranium and other soluble toxic metals. The reduction of U(VI) and other soluble contaminants by Geobacteraceae is directly dependent on the reduction of Fe(III) oxides, their natural electron acceptor, a process that requires the expression of Geobacter’s conductive pili (pilus nanowires). Expression of conductive pili by Geobacter cells leads to biofilm development on surfaces and to the formation of suspended biogranules, which may be physiological closer to biofilms than to planktonic cells. Biofilm development is often assumed in the subsurface, particularly at the matrix-well screen interface, but evidence of biofilms in the bulk aquifer matrix is scarce. Our preliminary results suggest, however, that biofilms develop in the subsurface and contribute to uranium transformations via sorption and reductive mechanisms. In this project we elucidated the mechanism(s) for uranium immobilization mediated by Geobacter biofilms and identified molecular markers to investigate if biofilm development is happening in the contaminated subsurface. The results provided novel insights needed in order to understand the metabolic potential and physiology of microorganisms with a known rolemore » in contaminant transformation in situ, thus having a significant positive impact in the SBR Program and providing novel concept to monitor, model, and predict biological behavior during in situ treatments.« less
  1. Michigan State University
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Technical Report
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United States
60 APPLIED LIFE SCIENCES Uranium, bioremediation, biofilms, Geobacter, nanowires, iron reduction