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Weak electro-stimulation promotes microbial uranium removal: Efficacy and mechanisms

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  • Fan Chen, Northwestern Polytechnical University Xian
  • ,
  • Beilei Fan, Northwestern Polytechnical University Xian
  • ,
  • Chunlin Wang, Northwestern Polytechnical University Xian
  • ,
  • Jin Qian, Northwestern Polytechnical University Xian
  • ,
  • Bo Wang
  • Xin Tang, Northwestern Polytechnical University Xian
  • ,
  • Zemin Qin, Northwestern Polytechnical University Xian
  • ,
  • Yanlong Chen, Northwestern Polytechnical University Xian
  • ,
  • Liang Bin Liang, Harbin Institute of Technology
  • ,
  • Wenzong Liu, Harbin Institute of Technology
  • ,
  • Aijie Wang, Harbin Institute of Technology
  • ,
  • Yin Ye, Northwestern Polytechnical University Xian
  • ,
  • Yuheng Wang, Northwestern Polytechnical University Xian

Removal and recovery of uranium from uranium-mine wastewater is beneficial to environmental protection and resource preservation. Reduction of soluble hexavalent U (U(VI)) to insoluble tetravalent uranium (U(IV)) by microbes is a plausible approach for this purpose, but its practical implementation has long been restricted by its intrinsic drawbacks. The electro-stimulated microbial process offers promise in overcoming these drawbacks. However, its applicability in real wastewater has not been evaluated yet, and its U(VI) removal mechanisms remain poorly understood. Herein, we report that introducing a weak electro-stimulation considerably boosted microbial U(VI) removal activities in both synthetic and real wastewater. The U(VI) removal has proceeded via U(VI)-to-U(IV) reduction in the biocathode, and the electrochemical characterization demonstrates the crucial role of the electroactive biofilm. Microbial community analysis shows that the broad biodiversity of the cathode biofilm is capable of U(VI) reduction, and the molecular ecological network indicates that synthetic metabolisms among electroactive and metal-reducing bacteria play major roles in electro-microbial-mediated uranium removal. Metagenomic sequencing elucidates that the electro-stimulated U(VI) bioreduction may proceed via e-pili, extracellular electron shuttles, periplasmic and outer membrane cytochrome, and thioredoxin pathways. These findings reveal the potential and mechanism of the electro-stimulated U(VI) bioreduction system for the treatment of U-bearing wastewater.

TidsskriftJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatusUdgivet - okt. 2022

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the fellowship of the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation ( 2021M692637 ), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 42077352 ), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. 31020200QD024 , No. 3102019JC007 , and No. G2021KY0601 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.

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