Dissimilatory iron reducing bacteria have been extensively studied for their ability to reduce ferric iron Fe(III) to ferrous iron Fe(II), as well as several multivalent heavy metals and radionuclides as a mode of energy-yielding respiration. Shewanella putrefaciens strain CN32 was used to investigate the mechanism of biogenic metal reduction in systems simulating conditions of natural anaerobic iron reducing environments in the subsurface contaminated with U and Tc as a possible strategy for bioremediation of soils containing these contaminants. As previously reviewed, U(VI) is soluble in most groundwaters, while U(VI) generally precipitates as the insoluble mineral uraninite. Formation of bioreduced minerals can lead to immobilization of these contaminants in the subsurface, which might be a very useful strategy for in situ bioremediation.
To determine the metal reduction and the formation of biogenic Fe(II), U(IV) and Tc(IV) minerals, experiments with CN32 exposed to well-defined aqueous solutions were conducted. Metal reduction was measured with time, and the resulting solids were analyzed by X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energydispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS).