Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol.115, No.7, 1685-1693, 2018
Direct solid-state evidence of H-2-induced partial U(VI) reduction concomitant with adsorption by extracellular polymeric substances (EPS)
Adsorption of hexavalent uranium (U(VI)) by extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) has been studied, but the possibility of simultaneous U(VI) reduction mediated by EPS has not had experimental confirmation, as the reduction products have not yet been directly proven. Here, we reported the first direct evidence of lower-valent products of U(VI) immobilization by loosely associated EPS (laEPS) isolated from a fermenter strain of Klebsiella sp. J1 when the laEPS was exposed to H-2. During the 120-min tests for similarly 86% adsorption under O-2, N-2, and H-2, 8% more U was immobilized through a non-adsorptive pathway by the EPS for H-2 than for N-2 and O-2. A set of solid-state characterization tools (FT-IR, XPS, EELS, and TEM-EDX) confirmed partial reduction of U(VI) to lower-valence U, with the main reduced form being uraninite ((UO2)-O-IV) nanoparticles, and the results reinforced the role of the reduction in accelerating U immobilization and shaping the characteristics of immobilized U in terms of valency, size, and crystallization. The laEPS, mostly comprised of carbohydrate and protein, contained non-cytochrome enzymes and electron carriers that could be responsible for electron transfer to U(VI). Taken together, our results directly confirm that EPS was able to mediate partial U(VI) reduction in the presence of H-2 through non-cytochrome catalysis and that reduction enhanced overall U immobilization. Our study fills in some gaps of the microbe-mediated U cycle and will be useful to understand and control U removal in engineered reactors and in-situ bioremediation.