90Sr is a radionuclide produced during nuclear fission and has a half life of ~29 years. Concern over radioactive strontium
as an environmental pollutant (ToxFAQs: Strontium) has driven research investigating
the potential of microorganisms to immobilize soluble strontium through biosorption, bioaccumulation, and biomineralization. Zooplankton in the protozoan
subclass Acantharia secrete skeletons composed of SrSO4 (celestite) and have an important role in the marine strontium cycle (Bernstein et al,
1987). No essential biological function for strontium has been identified in prokaryotes or fungi, but Sr2+ can replace Ca2+ in
some biochemical and physiological processes.
Direct reduction of strontium by microorganisms has not been observed, but precipitation of insoluble strontium complexes mediated by bacteria and fungi
has been described. When grown on citrate complexed with SrCl2 as a sole carbon source, Pseudomonas fluorescens deposited
strontium in extracellular SrCO3 crystals (Anderson and Appanna, 1994). The white-rot fungus Resinicium bicolor was shown to mobilize
strontium from solid
SrCO3, translocate solubilized strontium through hyphae, and then precipitate strontium in extracellular calcium oxalate crystals (Connolly et
1999). Soluble strontium can also be immobilized in siderite (FeCO3) complexes during growth of dissimilatory Fe(III)-reducing bacteria in
bicarbonate-buffered medium with added hydrous ferric oxide (Roden et al, 2002).
Biosorption of Sr2+ by yeast and filamentous fungal biomass has been demonstrated (de Rome and Gadd, 1991). Active uptake of
Sr2+ by Saccharomyces cerevisiae occurs during glucose metabolism, and leads to sequestration of Sr2+ in the vacuole (Avery and Tobin, 1992).
Strontium accumulation by S. cerevisiae can be increased by supplementing the growth medium with fatty acids, which reduces
Sr2+ efflux (Avery et al, 1999). Strontium accumulation by bacteria has also been described (Zharova, 1961; Belimov et al, 1998)
In the absence of Ca2+, Sr2+ restored normal S-layer production in Spirillum putridiconchylium (Beveridge and Murray,
1976) and stimulated exopolysaccharide production in Myxococcus xanthus (Kim et al, 1999).
Sr2+ has also been shown to effectively replace Ca2+ in the assembly of complex flagella in Rhizobium melioti (Robinson et al, 1992),
endospore formation in Bacillus cereus and B. megaterium (Foerster and Foster, 1966),
and the activation of methanol dehydrogenase in Methylobacterium extorquens (Goodwin et al, 1996).
For more information:
Medline for strontium metabolism AND bacteria
Anderson S, Appanna VD. Microbial formation of crystalline strontium carbonate. FEMS Microbiol Rev. 1994;116:43-48.
Belimov AA, Kunakova AM, Vasilyeva ND, Kovatcheva TS, Dritchko VF, Kuzovatov SN, Trushkina IR, Alekseyev YV. Accumulation of
radionuclides by associative bacteria and the uptake of 134Cs by the inoculated barley plants.
Developments in Plant and Soil Sciences. 1998;79:275-280.
Zharova TV. Accumulation of radioactive isotopes of strontium, ruthenium, cesium, and cerium by some bacteria. Mikrobiologiia.
Bernstein RE, Betzer PR, Feely RA, Byrne RH, Lamb MF, Michaels AF. Acantharian fluxes and strontium to chlorinity ratios in the north
Pacific Ocean. Science. 1987;237:1490-94.
Connolly JH, Shortle WC, Jellison J. Translocation and incorporation of strontium carbonate derived strontium into calcium oxalate
crystals by the wood decay fungus Resinicium bicolor. Can J Bot. 1999;77:179-87.
Roden EF, Leonardo MR, and Ferris FG. Immobilization of strontium during iron biomineralization coupled to dissimilatory hydrous ferric
oxide reduction. Geochim Cosmochim Act. 2002;66:2823-39.
de Rome L, Gadd GM. Use of pelleted and immobilized yeast and fungal biomass for heavy metal and radionuclide recovery. J Indust