Copper bioreduction and nanoparticle synthesis by an enrichment culture from a former copper mine

Richard L. Kimber, Gretta Elizondo, Klaudia Jedyka, Christopher Boothman, Rongsheng Cai, Heath Bagshaw, Sarah J. Haigh, Victoria S. Coker, Jonathan R. Lloyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microorganisms can facilitate the reduction of Cu2+, altering its speciation and mobility in environmental systems and producing Cu-based nanoparticles with useful catalytic properties. However, only a few model organisms have been studied in relation to Cu2+ bioreduction and little work has been carried out on microbes from Cu-contaminated environments. This study aimed to enrich for Cu-resistant microbes from a Cu-contaminated soil and explore their potential to facilitate Cu2+ reduction and biomineralisation from solution. We show that an enrichment grown in a Cu-amended medium, dominated by species closely related to Geothrix fermentans, Azospira restricta and Cellulomonas oligotrophica, can reduce Cu2+ with subsequent precipitation of Cu nanoparticles. Characterisation of the nanoparticles with (scanning) transmission electron microscopy, energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy and electron energy loss spectroscopy supports the presence of both metallic Cu(0) and S-rich Cu(I) nanoparticles. This study provides new insights into the diversity of microorganisms capable of facilitating copper reduction and highlights the potential for the formation of distinct nanoparticle phases resulting from bioreduction or biomineralisation reactions. The implications of these findings for the biogeochemical cycling of copper and the potential biotechnological synthesis of commercially useful copper nanoparticles are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3139-3150
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental microbiology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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