Heavy Metals Bioremediation of Soil

By L. Diels, M. De Smet, L. Hooyberghs, and P. Corbisier

Articles, Bioremediation

SUMMARY: Heavy Metals Bioremediation of Soil

L. Diels, M. De Smet, L. Hooyberghs, and P. Corbisier (1999). Heavy metals bioremediation of soil. Molecular Biotechnology, Vol.12, Issue 2, pp. 149-158.


Historical emissions of old nonferrous factories lead to large geographical areas of metals-contaminated sites. At Least 50 sites in Europe are contaminated with metals like Zn, Cd, Cu, and Pb. Several methods, based on granular differentiation, were developed to reduce the metals content. However, the obtained cleaned soil is just sand. Methods based on chemical leaching or extraction or on electrochemistry to release a soil without any salts and with an increased bioavailability of the remaining metals content. In this review a method is presented for the treatment of sandy soil contaminated with heavy metals. The system is based on the metal solubilization on biocrystallization capacity of Alcaligenes eutrophus CH34. The bacterium can solubilize the metals (or increase their bioavailability) via the production of siderophores and adsorb the metals in their biomass on metal-induced outer membrane proteins and by bioprecipitation. After the addition of CH34 to a soil slurry, the metals move toward the biomass. As the bacterium tends to float quite easily, the biomass is separated from the water via a flocculation process. The Cd concentration in sandy soils could be reduced from 21 mg Cd/kg to 3.3 mg Cd/kg. At the same time, Zn was reduced from 1070 mg Zn/kg to 172 mg Zn/kg. The lead concentration went down from 459 mg Pb/kg to 74 mg Pb/kg. With the aid of biosensors, a complete decrease in bioavailability of the metals was measured.

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