Biochemistry

Fungi munch on lead

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
481,
Pages:
240–241
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/481240d
Published online

Two species of fungus can transform metallic lead, a toxic pollutant, into a stable lead mineral called chloropyromorphite. The formation of this mineral has been proposed as a way to sequester lead contaminants in soil.

Geoffrey Gadd at the University of Dundee, UK, and his colleagues incubated small spheres of lead with either Metarhizium anisopliae or Paecilomyces javanicus, fungal species isolated from a former lead-mining area. They found mineral deposits on the surface of the spheres, and X-ray analysis of these minerals revealed signatures of chloropyromorphite after one month of incubation. The mineral became the dominant transformation product after three months. Lead not exposed to fungi showed typical signs of corrosion.

This is the first time that microbes have been found to generate pyromorphite.

Curr. Biol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2011.12.017 (2012)

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