Detection of biological uranium reduction using magnetic resonance
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The conversion of soluble uranyl ions (UO22+) by bacterial reduction to sparingly soluble uraninite (UO2(s)) is being studied as a way of immobilizing subsurface uranium contamination. Under anaerobic conditions, several known types of bacteria including iron and sulfate reducing bacteria have been shown to reduce U (VI) to U (IV). Experiments using a suspension of uraninite (UO2(s)) particles produced by Shewanella putrefaciens CN32 bacteria show a dependence of both longitudinal (T1) and transverse (T2) magnetic resonance (MR) relaxation times on the oxidation state and solubility of the uranium. Gradient echo and spin echo MR images were compared to quantify the effect caused by the magnetic field fluctuations (T*2 ) of the uraninite particles and soluble uranyl ions. Since the precipitate studied was suspended in liquid water, the effects of concentration and particle aggregation were explored. A suspension of uraninite particles was injected into a polysaccharide gel, which simulates the precipitation environment of uraninite in the extracellular biofilm matrix. A reduction in the T2 of the gel surrounding the particles was observed. Tests done in situ using three bioreactors under different mixing conditions, continuously stirred, intermittently stirred, and not stirred, showed a quantifiable T2 magnetic relaxation effect over the extent of the reaction.
Vogt SJ, Stewart BD, Seymour JD, Peyton BM, Codd SL, "Detection of biological uranium reduction using magnetic resonance," Biotechnology and Bioengineering, April 2012 109(4):877-883