Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 797–806

Biosorption of heavy metals by Saccharomyces cerevisiae


  • B. Volesky
    • Department of Chemical EngineeringMcGill University
  • H. A. May-Phillips
    • Department of Chemical EngineeringMcGill University
Environmental Biotechnology Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/BF00171964

Cite this article as:
Volesky, B. & May-Phillips, H.A. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol (1995) 42: 797. doi:10.1007/BF00171964


Abundant and common yeast biomass has been examined for its capacity to sequester heavy metals from dilute aqueous solutions. Live and non-living biomass of Saccharomyces cerevisiae differs in the uptake of uranium, zinc and copper at the optimum pH 4–5. Culture growth conditions can influence the biosorbent metal uptake capacity which normally was: living and non-living brewer's yeast: U > Zn > Cd > Cu; non-living baker's yeast: Zn > (Cd) > U > Cu; living baker's yeast: Zn > Cu ≈ (Cd) > U. Non-living brewer's yeast biomass accumulated 0.58 mmol U/g. The best biosorbent of zinc was non-living baker's yeast ( ≈ 0.56 mmol Zn/g). Dead cells of S. cerevisiae removed approximately 40% more uranium or zinc than the corresponding live cultures. Biosorption of uranium by S. cerevisiae was a rapid process reaching 60% of the final uptake value within the first 15 min of contact. Its deposition differing from that of other heavy metals more associated with the cell wall, uranium was deposited as fine-needle-like crystals both on the inside and outside of the S. cerevisiae cells.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995