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Cobalt biomineral precipitation in chemoorganotrophic systems for metal recovery

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Gadd
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted

Project Description

Background

Biologically-induced mineralization is common in microbes (1). Fungi are capable of precipitating minerals including oxides, carbonates, phosphates and oxalates by differing mechanisms but all dependent on chemoorganotrophic metabolism, and varying nutritional and environmental conditions (2-4). Through manipulation of growth conditions, it is possible to promote metal bioprecipitation which provides a means of biorecovery of metals. Further, biominerals can be of nanoscale dimensions in spherical, nanocrystalline, rod and tube-like forms (1). This provides further applied interest in view of the very high surface area to volume ratio and reactivity of such preparations (5,6). There is a dearth of information in this area and this PhD project therefore provides an excellent opportunity to obtain fundamental data and increase understanding of biomineralization in the biogeochemistry of Co and other metals, and applied significance in bioprocessing and production of useful biomineral products.

Workplan

This project will investigate the ability of selected geoactive fungal species to biomineralize Co as insoluble biominerals. A range of nutritional and physico-chemical variables will be investigated for different biomineral systems, along with the mechanisms involved in biomineral precipitation. The overall objective is to optimise the maximal yield of desired biominerals, and to understand conditions that enable bioprecipitation at various scales including nano- and microscale. Conditions necessary for selective metal recovery from metal mixtures will also be determined. The student will work alongside the PDRA, and will directly interact with other research groups through receipt of materials and leachates, chemical analyses of ores and leachates, and comparison of results with chemolithotrophic metal leaching and bioprecipitation studies. The student will directly interact with other groups in a large NERC-funded research consortium, receive cross-disciplinary training in geomicrobiology and geomycology, environmental geochemistry and mineralogy, and will interact with other ongoing research projects and training networks, e.g. UK Geomicrobiology Network, that are concerned with metal mobility in the environment. Applicants should ideally have a first-class or upper second class degree in microbiology, geomicrobiology, environmental mineralogy or a related discipline, experience of microbial growth and culture, and a good knowledge of organic and inorganic chemistry. Applications are invited now for a potential start date in September/October 2015.

References

(1) Gadd, G.M. Metals, minerals and microbes: geomicrobiology and bioremediation. Microbiology 156, 609 – 643 (2010).

(2) Gadd, G.M. Geomycology: biogeochemical transformations of rocks, minerals, metals and radionuclides by fungi, bioweathering and bioremediation. Mycological Research 111, 3-49 (2007).

(3) Rhee, Y.J., Hillier, S. & Gadd, G.M. Lead transformation to pyromorphite by fungi. Current Biology 22, 237-241 (2012).

(4) Wei, Z., Liang, X., Pendlowski, H., Hillier, S., Suntornvongsagul, K., Sihanonth, P. & Gadd, G.M. Fungal biotransformation of zinc silicate and sulfide mineral ores. Environmental Microbiology 15, 2173-2186 (2013).

(5) Aimable, A., Torres Puentes, A. & Bowen, P. Synthesis of porous and nanostructured particles of CuO via a copper oxalate route. Powder Technology 208, 467–471 (2011).

(6) Zhang, S., Wang, F., He, D. & Jia, R. Batch-to-batch control of particle size distribution in cobalt oxalate synthesis process based on hybrid model. Powder Technology 224, 253–259 (2012).

Applications are invited now for a potential start date in September/October 2015 and are funded for a period of 3.5 years. The deadline for applications is set as the 30th May 2015.

Applications are invited from UK/EU residents who fulfil NERC eligibility criteria. Applications from non-UK/EU nationals for these project areas can only be considered if applicants have their own funding.

Funding Notes

Applications are invited now for a potential start date in September/October 2016 and are funded for a period of 3.5 years. The deadline for applications is set as the 31st July 2016.

Applications are invited from UK/EU residents who fulfil NERC eligibility criteria. Applications from non-UK/EU nationals for these project areas can only be considered if applicants have their own funding.

References

References

(1) Gadd, G.M. Metals, minerals and microbes: geomicrobiology and bioremediation. Microbiology 156, 609 – 643 (2010).

(2) Gadd, G.M. Geomycology: biogeochemical transformations of rocks, minerals, metals and radionuclides by fungi, bioweathering and bioremediation. Mycological Research 111, 3-49 (2007).

(3) Rhee, Y.J., Hillier, S. & Gadd, G.M. Lead transformation to pyromorphite by fungi. Current Biology 22, 237-241 (2012).

(4) Wei, Z., Liang, X., Pendlowski, H., Hillier, S., Suntornvongsagul, K., Sihanonth, P. & Gadd, G.M. Fungal biotransformation of zinc silicate and sulfide mineral ores. Environmental Microbiology 15, 2173-2186 (2013).

(5) Aimable, A., Torres Puentes, A. & Bowen, P. Synthesis of porous and nanostructured particles of CuO via a copper oxalate route. Powder Technology 208, 467–471 (2011).

(6) Zhang, S., Wang, F., He, D. & Jia, R. Batch-to-batch control of particle size distribution in cobalt oxalate synthesis process based on hybrid model. Powder Technology 224, 253–259 (2012).

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