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Microscopic and spectroscopic bioassociation study of uranium(VI) with an archaeal Halobacterium isolate

Hilpmann, S.; Bader, M.; Steudtner, R.; Müller, K.; Stumpf, T.; Cherkouk, A.

The safe disposal of high-level radioactive waste in a deep geological repository is a huge social and scientific issue. So far, one of the less considered factors, especially in terms of a long-term risk assessment, is the impact of microorganisms occurring in the different host rocks. Even under the harsh conditions of salt formations different bacterial and archaeal species were found, e. g. Halobacterium sp. GP5 1-1, which has been isolated from a German rock salt sample. The interactions of this archaeon with uranium(VI), one of the major radionuclides of concern for the long-term storage of high-level radioactive waste, were investigated. Different spectroscopic techniques, as well as microscopy, were used to examine the occurring mechanisms on a molecular level leading to a more profound process understanding. Batch experiments with different uranium(VI) concentrations showed that the interaction is not only a simple, but a more complex combination of different processes. With the help of in situ attenuated total reflection Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopic investigations the association of uranium(VI) onto carboxylate groups was verified. In addition, time-resolved laser-induced luminescence spectroscopic investigations revealed the formation of a phosphate and carboxylate species within the cell pellets in dependence on the uranium(VI) concentration and the incubation time. Furthermore, the association behavior differs from another very closely related halophilic archaeon, especially with regard to uranium(VI) concentrations. This clearly demonstrates the importance of studying the interactions of different, at first sight very similar, microorganisms with uranium(VI). Overall, the findings presented in this work provide new insights into the microbe-uranium(VI) interactions at highly saline conditions relevant to the long-term storage of radioactive waste in rock salt.

Keywords: uranium(VI) bioassociation; halophilic archaea; rock salt

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Publ.-Id: 33000