Original Paper

Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 59, Issue 2, pp 382-388

Nickel accumulation and nickel oxalate precipitation by Aspergillus niger

  •  A. MagyarosyAffiliated withDepartment of Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720–1462, USA
  • ,  R. LaidlawAffiliated withDepartment of Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720–1462, USA
  • ,  R. KilaasAffiliated withLawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720–1462, USA
  • ,  C. EcherAffiliated withLawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720–1462, USA
  • ,  D. ClarkAffiliated withDepartment of Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720–1462, USA
  • ,  J. KeaslingAffiliated withDepartment of Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720–1462, USA

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Abstract.

A strain of Aspergillus niger isolated from a metal-contaminated soil was able to grow in the presence of cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, and unusually high levels of nickel on solid (8.0 mM) and in liquid (6.5 mM) media. This fungus removed >98% of the nickel from liquid medium after 100 h of growth but did not remove the other metals, as determined by inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy. Experiments with non-growing, live fungal biomass showed that nickel removal was not due to biosorption alone, as little nickel was bound to the biomass at the pH values tested. Furthermore, when the protonophore carbonyl cyanide p-(trifluoremetoxy) phenyl hydrazone (FCCP) was added to the actively growing fungus nickel removal was inhibited, supporting the hypothesis that energy metabolism is essential for metal removal. Analytical electron microscopy of thin-sectioned fungal biomass revealed that metal removed from the broth was localized in the form of small rectangular crystals associated with the cell walls and also inside the cell. X-ray and electron diffraction analysis showed that these crystals were nickel oxalate dihydrate.