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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Bioremediation and Biodegradation

Bacterial Reduction of Selenium in Coal Mine Tailings Pond Sediment


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 36 No. 3, p. 621-627
    Received: Sept 6, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): arocenaj@unbc.ca
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  1. Tariq Siddiquea,
  2. Joselito M. Arocena *ab,
  3. Ronald W. Thringa and
  4. Yiqiang Zhangc
  1. a Environmental Science and Engineering, Univ. of Northern British Columbia, 3333 University Way, Prince George, BC V2N 4Z9 Canada
    b Canada Research Chair–Soil and Environmental Sciences, Univ. of Northern British Columbia, 3333 University Way, Prince George, BC V2N 4Z9 Canada
    c Dep. of Environmental Sciences, Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521 USA. T. Siddique, present address, Dep. of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2E9


Sediment from a storage facility for coal tailings solids was assessed for its capacity to reduce selenium (Se) by native bacterial community. One Se6+–reducing bacterium Enterobacter hormaechei (Tar11) and four Se4+–reducing bacteria, Klebsiella pneumoniae (Tar1), Pseudomonas fluorescens (Tar3), Stenotrophomonas maltophilia (Tar6), and Enterobacter amnigenus (Tar8) were isolated from the sediment. Enterobacter hormaechei removed 96% of the added Se6+ (0.92 mg L−1) from the effluents when Se6+ was determined after 5 d of incubation. Analysis of the red precipitates showed that Se6+ reduction resulted in the formation of spherical particles (<1.0 μm) of Se0 as observed under scanning electron microscope (SEM) and confirmed by EDAX. Selenium speciation was performed to examine the fate of the added Se6+ in the sediment with or without addition of Enterobacter hormaechei cells. More than 99% of the added Se6+ (∼2.5 mg L−1) was transformed in the nonsterilized sediment (without Enterobacter hormaechei cells) as well as in the sterilized (heat-killed) sediment (with Enterobacter hormaechei cells). The results of this study suggest that the lagoon sediments at the mine site harbor Se6+– and Se4+–reducing bacteria and may be important sinks for soluble Se (Se6+ and Se4+). Enterobacter hormaechei isolated from metal-contaminated sediment may have potential application in removing Se from industrial effluents.

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