July 21, 2015
Journal Article

Influence of Carbon and Microbial Community Priming on the Attenuation of Uranium in a Contaminated Floodplain Aquifer


The capacity for subsurface sediments to sequester metal contaminants, such as uranium (U), and retain them after bioremediation efforts are completed is critical to site stewardship. Sediments enriched in natural organic matter are capable of sequestering significant quantities of U, but may also serve as sources to the aquifer, contributing to plume persistence. Two types of sediments were compared to better understand the mechanisms contributing to the sequestration and release of U in the presence of organic matter. Artificially bioreduced sediments were retrieved from a field experimental plot previously stimulated with acetate while naturally bioreduced sediments were collected from a location enriched in organic matter but never subject to acetate amendment. Batch incubations demonstrated that the artificially bioreduced sediments were primed to rapidly remove uranium from the groundwater whereas naturally bioreduced sediments initially released a sizeable portion of sediment U before U(VI)-removal commenced. Column experiments confirmed that U release persisted for 65 pore volumes in naturally bioreduced sediments, demonstrating the sink-source behavior of this sediment. Acetate addition to artificially bioreduced sediments shifted the microbial community from one dominated by sulfate-reducing bacteria within Desulfobacteraceae to the iron-reducing family Geobacteraceae and Firmicutes during U(VI) reduction. In contrast, initial Geobacteraceae communities innaturally reduced sediments were replaced by clone sequences with similarity to opportunistic Pseudomonas spp. during U release, while U(VI) removal occurred concurrent with enrichment of Firmicutes. These investigations stress the importance of characterizing zones with heterogeneous carbon pools at U contaminated sites prior to the determination of a remedial strategy.

Revised: February 20, 2020 | Published: July 21, 2015


Mouser P.J., A.L. N'Guessan, N. Qafoku, M. Sinha, K.H. Williams, M. Dangelmayr, and C.T. Resch, et al. 2015. Influence of Carbon and Microbial Community Priming on the Attenuation of Uranium in a Contaminated Floodplain Aquifer. Groundwater 53, no. 4:600-613. PNNL-SA-99197. doi:10.1111/gwat.12238