Bioleaching of Heavy metals from Contaminated Sediments by the Aspergillus niger Strain SY1


Xiangfeng Zeng, Shuhe Wei, Lina Sun, David A. Jacques, Jiaxi Tang, Lian Meihua, Ji Zhanhua, Jun Wang, Jianyu Zhu, Zx Xu


Purpose 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. Conclusions 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.

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Zeng XF, Wei SH, Sun LN, Jacques DA, Tang JX, Lian MH, Ji ZH, Wang J, Zhu JY, Xu ZX. 2015. Bioleaching of heavy metals from contaminated sediments by the Aspergillus niger strain SY1. Journal of Soils and Sediments 15:1029-1038.