Fungus study offers insights about biogeochemical cycling, bioremediation

Apr 25, 2011
Left: TEM cross section of Mn oxide on a hypha of the fungus, Plectosphaerella cucumerina. Right: HR-TEM image showing Mn oxide with a rumpled, sheet-like morphology.

Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory users helped fill a gap in the research community’s knowledge about the role of fungi and manganese (Mn) oxides in biogeochemical cycling and bioremediation.

Mn is a contaminant commonly found in coal mine drainage. Though high concentrations of soluble Mn, as the reduced Mn(II) ion, can be problematic, Mn oxides, whose formation is readily stimulated by bacteria and , can be quite helpful.

These highly reactive compounds play a role in the cycling of nutrients and carbon in the soil and water, and importantly, they can serve as bioremediating agents by scavenging metals.

Previous Mn studies have centered on bacteria, but the role of fungi in Mn(II) oxidation and subsequent Mn formation is just as important and was, therefore, the focus of EMSL collaborators from Harvard University—including EMSL Distinguished User Colleen Hansel— and the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Light source (SSRL).

The research team fully characterized the Mn oxides produced by four different species of fungi isolated from coal mine drainage treatment systems in central Pennsylvania by integrating a broad suite of microscopy and spectroscopy tools, including high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM) equipped with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy at EMSL and X-ray absorption spectroscopy at SSRL.

Their studies revealed that the species, growth conditions, and cellular structures of fungi influence the size, morphology, and structure—and, therefore, reactivity—of the Mn oxides. Their results underline the importance of species diversity in biogeochemical cycling and .

Explore further: New study shows safer methods for stem cell culturing

More information: Santelli CM, SM Webb, AC Dohnalkova, and CM Hansel. 2011. “Diversity of Mn oxides produced by Mn(II)-oxidizing fungi.” Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 75(10): 2762-2776 DOI:10.1016/j.gca.2011.02.022

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

What’s in an Isotope? Quite a Lot

Nov 16, 2006

A new technique developed by researchers at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory now allows scientists to use an isotope of manganese not abundant on Earth to understand the record of millions of years of changes ...

Taking the mystery out of photosynthesis

Feb 10, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- An enigmatic protein system that uses sunlight and water to create fuel became a little less mysterious, thanks to scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, University of Michigan, ...

Long-distance communication, microbial style

Oct 06, 2010

Scientists knew that the microbe Shewanella oneidensis transformed the electronic structure of the iron oxide it touched in the ground as well as without direct contact. Scientists from Pacific Northwest National ...

Recommended for you

Malaria transmission linked to mosquitoes' sexual biology

11 hours ago

Sexual biology may be the key to uncovering why Anopheles mosquitoes are unique in their ability to transmit malaria to humans, according to researchers at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and University of Per ...

Intermediary neuron acts as synaptic cloaking device

12 hours ago

Neuroscientists believe that the connectome, a map of each and every connection between the millions of neurons in the brain, will provide a blueprint that will allow them to link brain anatomy to brain function. ...

Skeleton of cells controls cell multiplication

12 hours ago

A research team from Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia (IGC; Portugal), led by Florence Janody, in collaboration with Nicolas Tapon from London Research Institute (LRI; UK), discovered that the cell's skeleton ...

New study shows safer methods for stem cell culturing

Feb 25, 2015

A new study led by researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and the University of California (UC), San Diego School of Medicine shows that certain stem cell culture methods are associated with increased DNA mutations. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.