Zinc sorption to biogenic hexagonal-birnessite particles within a hydrated bacterial biofilm

Brandy Toner, Alain Manceau, Samuel M. Webb, Garrison Sposito

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181 Scopus citations


Biofilm-embedded Mn oxides exert important controls on trace metal cycling in aquatic and soil environments. The speciation and mobility of Zn in particular has been linked to Mn oxides found in streams, wetlands, soils, and aquifers. We investigated the mechanisms of Zn sorption to a biogenic Mn oxide within a biofilm produced by model soil and freshwater MnII-oxidizing bacteria Pseudomonas putida. The biogenic Mn oxide is a c-disordered birnessite with hexagonal layer symmetry. Zinc adsorption isotherm and Zn and Mn K-edge extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) spectroscopy experiments were conducted at pH 6.9 to characterize Zn sorption to this biogenic Mn oxide, and to determine whether the bioorganic components of the biofilm affect metal sorption properties. The EXAFS data were analyzed by spectral fitting, principal component analysis, and linear least-squares fitting with reference spectra. Zinc speciation was found to change as Zn loading to the biosorbent [bacterial cells, extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), and biogenic Mn oxide] increased. At low Zn loading (0.13 ± 0.04 mol Zn kg-1 biosorbent), Zn was sorbed to crystallographically well-defined sites on the biogenic oxide layers in tetrahedral coordination to structural O atoms. The fit to the EXAFS spectrum was consistent with Zn sorption above and below the MnIV vacancy sites of the oxide layers. As Zn loading increased to 0.72 ± 0.04 mol Zn kg-1 biosorbent, Zn was also detected in octahedral coordination to these sites. Overall, our results indicate that the biofilm did not intervene in Zn sorption by the Mn-oxide because sorption to the organic material was observed only after all Mn vacancy sites were capped by Zn. The organic functional groups present in the biofilm contributed significantly to Zn removal from solution when Zn concentrations exceeded the sorption capacity of the biooxide. At the highest Zn loading studied, 1.50 ± 0.36 mol Zn kg-1 biosorbent, the proportion of total Zn sorption attributed to bioorganic material was 38 mol%. The maximum Zn loading to the biogenic oxide that we observed was 4.1 mol Zn kg-1 biogenic Mn oxide, corresponding to 0.37 ± 0.02 mol Zn mol-1 Mn. This loading is in excellent agreement with previous estimates of the content of cation vacancies in the biogenic oxide. The results of this study improve our knowledge of Zn speciation in natural systems and are consistent with those of Zn speciation in mineral soil fractions and ferromanganese nodules where the Mn oxides present are possibly biogenic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-43
Number of pages17
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
B.T. and G.S. thank the National Science Foundation Collaborative Research Activities in Environmental Molecular Science (CRAEMS) program for funding (CHE-0089208). We thank Dr. Mario Villalobos (National University of Mexico) for the δMnO 2 sample and the Mn EXAFS spectra for δMnO 2 and acid birnessite. We thank Dr. John Bargar (Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, SSRL) for assistance with data collection and interpretation. Portions of this research were carried out at the SSRL, a national user facility operated by Stanford University on behalf of the US Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Basic Energy Sciences. The SSRL Environmental Remediation Science Program is supported by the DOE, Office of Biological and Environmental Research. The SSRL Structural Molecular Biology Program is supported by the DOE, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, and by the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Research Resources, Biomedical Technology Program.


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