Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 102, Issue 9, pp 4217–4229 | Cite as

The biomineralization process of uranium(VI) by Saccharomyces cerevisiae — transformation from amorphous U(VI) to crystalline chernikovite

  • Yanghao Shen
  • Xinyan Zheng
  • Xiaoyu Wang
  • Tieshan Wang
Environmental biotechnology


Microorganisms play a significant role in uranium(VI) biogeochemistry and influence U(VI) transformation through biomineralization. In the present work, the process of uranium mineralization was investigated by Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The toxicity experiments showed that the viability of cell was not significantly affected by 100 mg L−1 U(VI) under 4 days of exposure time. The batch experiments showed that the phosphate concentration and pH value increased over time during U(VI) adsorption. Meanwhile, thermodynamic calculations demonstrated that the adsorption system was supersaturated with respect to UO2HPO4. The X-ray powder diffraction spectroscopy (XRD), field emission scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM) equipped with energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDX), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) analyses indicated that the U(VI) was first attached onto the cell surface and reacted with hydroxyl, carboxyl, and phosphate groups through electrostatic interactions and complexation. As the immobilization of U(VI) transformed it from the ionic to the amorphous state, lamellar uranium precipitate was formed on the cell surface. With the prolongation of time, the amorphous uranium compound disappeared, and there were some crystalline substances observed extracellularly, which were well-characterized as tetragonal-chernikovite. Furthermore, the size of chernikovite was regulated at nano-level by cells, and the perfect crystal was formed finally. These findings provided an understanding of the non-reductive transformation process of U(VI) from the amorphous to crystalline state within microbe systems, which would be beneficial for the U(VI) treatment and reuse of nuclides and heavy metals.


Biomineralization Uranium(VI) Saccharomyces cerevisiae Nano-chernikovite Transformation 



This study was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant Number: lzujbky-2017-it37). The authors also acknowledge Fanrui Kong, Yu Luo, and Chen Zeng, for the great help in designing the cellular graphics, thermodynamic calculations, and English proofreading of this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical statement

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Nuclear Science and TechnologyLanzhou UniversityLanzhouChina

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