Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter (O) September 25, 2009

Plutonium speciation affected by environmental bacteria

Mary P. Neu , Gary A. Icopini and Hakim Boukhalfa
From the journal Radiochimica Acta


Plutonium has no known biological utility, yet it has the potential to interact with bacterial cellular and extracellular structures that contain metal-binding groups, to interfere with the uptake and utilization of essential elements, and to alter cell metabolism. These interactions can transform plutonium from its most common forms, solid, mineral-adsorbed, or colloidal Pu(IV), to a variety of biogeochemical species that have much different physico-chemical properties. Organic acids that are extruded products of cell metabolism can solubilize plutonium and then enhance its environmental mobility, or in some cases facilitate plutonium transfer into cells. Phosphate- and carboxylate-rich polymers associated with cell walls can bind plutonium to form mobile biocolloids or Pu-laden biofilm/mineral solids. Bacterial membranes, proteins or redox agents can produce strongly reducing electrochemical zones and generate molecular Pu(III/IV) species or oxide particles. Alternatively, they can oxidize plutonium to form soluble Pu(V) or Pu(VI) complexes. This paper reviews research on plutonium-bacteria interactions and closely related studies on the biotransformation of uranium and other metals.

Received: 2005-1-3
Accepted: 2005-6-10
Published Online: 2009-9-25
Published in Print: 2005-11-1

© Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, München

Downloaded on 27.11.2022 from
Scroll Up Arrow