Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bacteria Used To Make Radioactive Metals Inert

Date:
September 9, 2009
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
The Lost Orphan Mine below the Grand Canyon hasn't produced uranium since the 1960s, but radioactive residue still contaminates the area. Cleaning the region takes an expensive process that is only done in extreme cases, but a biochemistry professor is researching the use of sulfate-reducing bacteria to convert toxic radioactive metal to inert substances, a much more economical solution.

Judy Wall, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Missouri, is working with bacteria that convert toxic radioactive metal to inert substances.

The Lost Orphan Mine below the Grand Canyon hasn't produced uranium since the 1960s, but radioactive residue still contaminates the area. Cleaning the region takes an expensive process that is only done in extreme cases, but Judy Wall, a biochemistry professor at the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, is researching the use of sulfate-reducing bacteria to convert toxic radioactive metal to inert substances, a much more economical solution.

The bacteria Wall is studying are bio-corrosives and can change the solubility of heavy metals. They can take uranium and convert it to uraninite, a nearly insoluble substance that will sink to the bottom of a lake or stream. Wall is looking into the bacteria's water cleansing ability and how long the changed material would remain inert.

Wall's research could also be beneficial to heavy metal pollution from storage tanks and industrial waste. The bacteria are already present in more than 7,000 heavy metal contaminated sites, but they live in a specific range of oxygen and temperature, making them difficult to control.

"Our research must be done in the absence of air," Wall said. "Obviously, none but the most committed – and stubborn – will work with them."

Even if an oxygen-tolerant strain were developed, there are still multiple factors that would make applying the bacteria challenging, and these microbes can contribute to massive iron corrosion.

"Knowledge of the way bacteria live in the environment, in microbial communities, is still in its infancy," Wall said. "We just don't know a lot about the communication systems among microbes."

Wall and researchers from the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory in California are investigating the bacterium's basic genetics and hope to determine its growth limits and activity in natural settings, including how to make its interactions with metals sustainable. They have already identified a few genes that are critical to converting uranium.

Wall's research has been published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Nucleic Acids Research and Environmental Microbiology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Bacteria Used To Make Radioactive Metals Inert." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090908193444.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2009, September 9). Bacteria Used To Make Radioactive Metals Inert. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090908193444.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Bacteria Used To Make Radioactive Metals Inert." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090908193444.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins