Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study uncovers bacteria’s worst enemy

15.04.2005


University of California scientists working at Los Alamos National Laboratory have found that the successful use of bacteria to remediate environmental contamination from nuclear waste and processing activities may depend more upon how resistant the bacteria are to chemicals than to how tolerant they are to radioactivity. The results of a recent Laboratory study may help make bacterial bioremediation a more widespread method for cleaning up sites contaminated with actinides and other radionuclides.

In research published in the journal Environmental Microbiology, Laboratory chemist Mary Neu and her colleagues describe their study of different naturally occurring bacteria used to treat actinide contamination. Actinides are the elements above atomic number 89 and are usually radioactive. The study’s results indicate that actinide toxicity is primarily chemical, rather than radiological, and so a bacteria’s resistance to radiation does not necessarily ensure a tolerance for radionuclides. In fact, the bacteria’s worst enemy in a nuclear waste site may not be the radioactive elements, but rather, the other toxic metals that might also be found at the site.

The study also shows that contrary to the conventional wisdom, when it comes to these environmental bacteria, plutonium is less toxic than uranium and, in general, actinides are less toxic than other types of metals. This suggests that actinide toxicity will not impede bioremediation using naturally occurring bacteria.



"This study" said Neu, "is exciting because even though we’ve known for years that bacterial bioremediation can be a preferred method for cleaning up actinide contamination, we’ve never really known whether or not radioactivity or chemical toxicity will stifle the process. Our study found that actinides are chemically toxic to bacteria only at high levels far, far above concentrations at contaminated sites, and that common toxic metals, such as cadmium, nickel, and chromium, are more likely to cause problems for the bacteria."

Generally, bacteria used for bioremediation are selected to target a specific form and oxidation state of toxic pollutants, such as soluble hexavalent uranium carbonate for uranium contamination. However, a single chemical rarely contaminates soils and groundwater and combinations of actinides, radionuclides, organic chemicals and metal regularly exist at many nuclear sites. Based on the results of this study, if bioremediation is to be effective at these types of sites, the operative microorganisms must be able to grow, function and do better than other bacteria in the presence of all kinds of contaminants.

The study examined the effects of toxicity of actinides, metals and chelators on different bacteria being evaluated for radionuclide bioremediation, Deinococcus radiodurans and Pseudomonas putida, along with the toxicity of plutonium on the bacteria Shewanella putrefaciens.

In addition to Neu, the bacteria bioremediation study team includes Christy Ruggiero and Hakim Boukhalfa of the Chemistry Division, and Joseph Lack and Larry Hersman from the Laboratory’s Bioscience Division.

Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated by the University of California for the National Nuclear Security Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy and works in partnership with NNSA’s Sandia and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories to support NNSA in its mission.

Los Alamos enhances global security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to defense, energy, environment, infrastructure, health and national security concerns.

Todd Hanson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.lanl.gov

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>