Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 1029–1038 | Cite as

Bioleaching of heavy metals from contaminated sediments by the Aspergillus niger strain SY1

  • Xiangfeng Zeng
  • Shuhe WeiEmail author
  • Lina Sun
  • David A. Jacques
  • Jiaxi Tang
  • Meihua Lian
  • Zhanhua Ji
  • Jun Wang
  • Jianyu Zhu
  • Zixiang Xu
Sediments, Sec 4 • Sediment-Ecology Interactions • Research Article



The objective of this study was to investigate the bioleaching of heavy metals from contaminated sediments by Aspergillus niger strain SY1. To achieve this, three targets were identified: (1) identify organic acids produced by the isolated A. niger strain SY1 from contaminated sediments, (2) compare the leaching ability and transformation of chemical speciation of heavy metals during the bioleaching processes, and (3) determine the toxic characteristic of sediment before and after bioleaching.

Materials and methods

The contaminated sediment was collected from the dredging of the Xihe River, China. The A. niger strain SY1 was isolated from this sediment. Bioleaching experiments were carried out in 250 ml autoclaved conical flasks with 10 g autoclaved sediment, 1 ml of spore suspension, and 99 ml culture medium; the flasks were placed in a shaking incubator (220 rpm) at 30 °C for 7 days. Toxicity characteristic leaching procedure (TCLP) tests were carried out according to USEPA-SW846 Method 1311, and the wheat and earthworm toxicity tests were carried out according to OECD “Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals.” Fractionation of heavy metals was undertaken by the three-step sequential extraction procedure. The metabolites were determined with a HPLC system.

Results and discussion

There was 11.5 % leaching efficiency of Pb from the polluted sediment in the one-step bioleaching process; while in the two-step bioleaching process, the highest extraction efficiency of Pb was 65.4 %. In one-step bioleaching, 93.5 % Cd, 62.3 % Cu, and 68.2 % Zn were leached out; whereas, the highest metal extraction efficiencies of Cd, Cu, and Zn were 99.5, 56, 71.9, and 76.4 %, respectively, in two-step bioleaching. After the bioleaching, the metals remaining in the sediment were mainly found in the stable fractions. Cd, Pb, Cu, and Zn concentrations in extracted liquor of TCLP tests were reduced to far below the levels in two Chinese standards, and the sediment after bioleaching had a lower toxicity on wheat and earthworm.


A. niger strain SY1 can effectively remove heavy metals in contaminated sediment. The bioleaching efficiencies of heavy metals in the two-step bioleaching were better than that in one-step bioleaching. After the bioleaching, metals remaining in the sediment were mainly found in the stable fractions, and the toxicity of it was reduced to a level for it to be used safely in landfill or used in land application. A. niger strain SY1 is a cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and efficient bioleacher of heavy metals.


Aspergillus niger Bioleaching Fractionation Heavy metals Toxicity 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21277150,31270540, 31070455, 31370829, 51174239, and 40971184), Ministry of Science and Technology (2011DFA91810), Ministry of Environmental Protection (2012ZX07202-004), the National Science & Technology Pillar Program (2012BAC17B04), Hi-tech research and development program of China (2012AA06A202), Natural Science Foundation of Liaoning Province, China (201102224), Natural Science Foundation of Shenyang City, China (F13-067-2-00), the Geping green action-environmental research and education “123 project” of Liaoning Province, China (CEPF2011-123-1-1), and the State Scholarship Fund organized by China Scholarship Council (CSC2013). The authors would also like to thank Paula McNamee and Dr. Xiaoman Yu for their constant support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiangfeng Zeng
    • 1
    • 3
    • 6
  • Shuhe Wei
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lina Sun
    • 2
  • David A. Jacques
    • 4
  • Jiaxi Tang
    • 2
    • 5
  • Meihua Lian
    • 2
  • Zhanhua Ji
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jun Wang
    • 6
  • Jianyu Zhu
    • 6
  • Zixiang Xu
    • 7
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Pollution Ecology and Environment Engineering, Institute of Applied EcologyChinese Academy of SciencesShenyangPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Regional Environment and Eco-Remediation (Ministry of Education)Shenyang UniversityShenyangPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Energy Research Institute, School of Process, Environmental and Materials EngineeringUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  5. 5.Department of Land and EnvironmentShenyang Agricultural UniversityShenyangPeople’s Republic of China
  6. 6.Center for Environmental BiotechnologyThe University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  7. 7.Key Laboratory of Systems Microbial Biotechnology, Tianjin Institute of Industrial BiotechnologyChinese Academy of SciencesTianjinPeople’s Republic of China

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