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Chapter 11 : Influence of Fungi on the Environmental Mobility of Metals and Metalloids

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Abstract:

Metals and their derivatives can interact with fungi in various ways depending on the metal species, organism, and environment, while fungal metabolic activities can also influence speciation and mobility. This chapter seeks to highlight the physicochemical and biochemical mechanisms by which fungi can interact with and transform toxic metal species between soluble and insoluble forms, the significance of these processes in the environment, and their potential for use in bioremediation. A simple method of screening fungi for the solubilization of insoluble metal compounds is based on observing clear zones of solubilization around colonies growing on solid medium amended with the desired insoluble metal compound. Metal immobilization by fungi may be metabolism independent, occurring whether the biomass is dead or alive, or metabolism dependent, comprising processes which sequester, precipitate, internalize, or transform the metal species and may involve both organic and inorganic extracellular metabolites. Several species of fungi, including unicellular and filamentous forms, can transform metals, metalloids, and organometallic compounds by reduction, methylation, and dealkylation, these are processes of environmental importance, since transformation of a metal or metalloid may modify its mobility and toxicity. The biological methylation (biomethylation) of metalloids has been demonstrated in filamentous fungi and yeasts, and this frequently results in their volatilization. Many species of fungi are able to remove, or leach, metals ("heterotrophic leaching") from industrial wastes and by-products, low-grade ores, and metal-bearing minerals, a process relevant to metal recovery and recycling and/or bioremediation of contaminated solid wastes.

Citation: Gadd G, Sayer J. 2000. Influence of Fungi on the Environmental Mobility of Metals and Metalloids, p 237-256. In Lovley D (ed), Environmental Microbe-Metal Interactions. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818098.ch11

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Figure 1

Simple model for the biogeochemical significance of metal and metalloid transformations by fungi. Their influence in effecting changes in metal solubility is emphasized, as well as the influence of environmental factors on these processes and on fungal growth, morphogenesis, and physiology. The relative balance between the processes will depend on the environment, organism(s), and interactions with other organisms including animals, plants and anthropogenic activities. 1, Metal solubilization by, e.g., heterotrophic leaching, siderophores, metabolite excretion including organic acids and H, redox reactions, methylation, and biodegradation of organometal(loid)s. 2, Effects of soluble metal species on fungi and metal immobilization by, e.g., biosorption, transport, intracellular sequestration and compartmentation, redox reactions, precipitation, and crystallization. 3, Effects of insoluble metal species on fungi, particulate adsorption, and entrapment by polysaccharide and/or mycelial network. 4, Metal immobilization by, e.g., precipitation, crystallization, or reduction. 5, Influence of environmental factors, e.g., pH, O, CO, nutrients, salinity, toxic metals, and other pollutants, on fungal growth, metabolism, and morphogenesis. 6, Influence of fungal activities on the environment, e.g., alterations in pH, O, CO, and redox potential; depletion of nutrients; and enzyme and metabolite excretion. 7 and 8, Environmental factors which direct the equilibrium between soluble and insoluble metal species towards metal mobilization (step 7) or metal immobilization (step 8) ( ).

Citation: Gadd G, Sayer J. 2000. Influence of Fungi on the Environmental Mobility of Metals and Metalloids, p 237-256. In Lovley D (ed), Environmental Microbe-Metal Interactions. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818098.ch11
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Figure 2

Mechanisms and cellular location of key fungal transformations of metals and metalloids. The list of interactions is not exhaustive, and considerable differences may occur between different species and strains. The location of some processes, especially certain sequestration and transformation reactions, is still uncertain, and this diagram does not include the possible involvement of other organelles, e.g., mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and nucleus, in metal homeostasis and compartmentation.

Citation: Gadd G, Sayer J. 2000. Influence of Fungi on the Environmental Mobility of Metals and Metalloids, p 237-256. In Lovley D (ed), Environmental Microbe-Metal Interactions. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818098.ch11
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Figure 3

Some metal ion transport sytems of . The separate high-affinity transport systems ensure the accumulation of essential metals that are present at low external concentrations. Note that iron uptake has two phases: reduction by Fe(III) reductases of Fe(III) to Fe(II) followed by cellular entry of Fe(II) ( does not produce siderophores, in contrast to many other fungi [133]). In the high-affinity copper uptake system, the FREl gene product reduces Cu(II) to Cu(I) before transport of Cu(I). ?, incomplete characterization. The values for the high- and low-affinity systems for Fe(II), Mn, and Zn are 0.15 and 30 µM, 0.3 and 60 µM, and 1 and 10 µM, respectively ( ). Adapted from reference 33 with permission of the American Society for Microbiology.

Citation: Gadd G, Sayer J. 2000. Influence of Fungi on the Environmental Mobility of Metals and Metalloids, p 237-256. In Lovley D (ed), Environmental Microbe-Metal Interactions. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818098.ch11
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Figure 4

Scanning electron micrographs of metal oxalate crystals ( ). (a) Strontium oxalate produced by grown on strontium nitrate-containing malt extract agar, (b) Chemically synthesized strontium oxalate crystals made by allowing 100 mM oxalic acid to diffuse from wells cut in strontium nitrate-containing malt extract agar; crystals were purified from the agar surrounding the wells, (c and d) Manganese oxalate crystals produced by grown on malt extract agar amended with the manganese-containing mineral rhodochrosite (c) or manganese phosphate (d). Bars, 100 µm.

Citation: Gadd G, Sayer J. 2000. Influence of Fungi on the Environmental Mobility of Metals and Metalloids, p 237-256. In Lovley D (ed), Environmental Microbe-Metal Interactions. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818098.ch11
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Tables

Generic image for table
Table 1

Solubility products of some metal oxalates

Citation: Gadd G, Sayer J. 2000. Influence of Fungi on the Environmental Mobility of Metals and Metalloids, p 237-256. In Lovley D (ed), Environmental Microbe-Metal Interactions. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818098.ch11

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