Toxic metals and bioremediation

Our research on toxic metals and bioremediation focuses on understanding how microbial processes control the mobility of metals that are associated with minerals, in particular iron minerals such as ferrihydrite, goethite, magnetite and green rust. This includes understanding how arsenic is mobilized in groundwater aquifers and how it can be removed from water to provide safe drinking water, for example by drinking water filters. We study how the binding of As and Cd to minerals can immobilize these metals, how mineral precipitating bacteria can stimulate this process, how mineral dissolving bacteria can mobilize the metals, and to which extent the toxic metals (e.g. Cr, As) undergo redox reactions with the reactive iron minerals. We investigate iron-oxidizing bacteria and co-precipitation and removal of toxic metals in rice paddy soils, at roots of rice plants and in the extremely acidic river Rio Tinto in Spain. Furthermore, we study how metals can be extracted from waste such as slag from incineration plant as well as from ash produced during wood burning.

Team members: James Byrne, Elizabeth Tomaszewski, Martyna Glodowska, Monique Patzner, Julian Sorwat, Sergey Abramov, Julian Tejada, Sara Kleindienst, Markus Maisch, Caroline Schmidt, Anh Van Le

Collaborators: Michael Berg, Thomas Neumann, Pham Hung Viet, Yong-Guan Zhu, Harald Thorwath, Marie Mühe, Ricardo Amils