Metal binding by bacteria from uranium mining waste piles and its technological applications.

Pollmann K, Raff J, Merroun M, Fahmy K, Selenska-Pobell S.

Biotechnol Adv. 2006 Jan-Feb;24(1):58-68

Abstract: Uranium mining waste piles, heavily polluted with radionuclides and other toxic metals, are a reservoir for bacteria that have evolved special strategies to survive in these extreme environments. Understanding the mechanisms of bacterial adaptation may enable the development of novel bioremediation strategies and other technological applications. Cell isolates of Bacillus sphaericus JG-A12 from a uranium mining waste pile in Germany are able to accumulate high amounts of toxic metals such as U, Cu, Pb, Al, and Cd as well as precious metals. Some of these metals, i.e. U, Cu, Pd(II), Pt(II) and Au(III), are also bound by the highly orderd paracrystalline proteinaceous surface layer (S-layer) that envelopes the cells of this strain. These special capabilities of the cells and the S-layer proteins of B. sphaericus JG-A12 are highly interesting for the clean-up of uranium contaminated waste waters, for the recovery of precious metals from electronic wastes, and for the production of metal nanoclusters. The fabricated nanoparticles are promising for the development of novel catalysts.This work reviews the molecular biology of the S-layer of the strain JG-A12 and the S-layer dependent interactions of the bacterial cells with metals. It presents future perspectives for their application in bioremediation and nanotechnology.