CaCO3 and SrCO3 bioprecipitation by fungi isolated from calcareous soil

Qianwei Li, Laszlo Csetenyi, Graeme Iain Paton, Geoffrey Michael Gadd*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


The urease-positive fungi Pestalotiopsis sp. and Myrothecium gramineum, isolated from calcareous soil, were examined for their properties of CaCO3 and SrCO3 biomineralization. After incubation in media amended with urea and CaCl2 and/or SrCl2, calcite (CaCO3), strontianite (SrCO3), vaterite in different forms [CaCO3, (CaxSr1-x)CO3] and olekminskite [Sr(Sr,Ca)(CO3)2] were precipitated, and fungal 'footprints' were observed on mineral surfaces. The amorphous precipitate mediated by Pestalotiopsis sp. grown with urea and equivalent concentrations of CaCl2 and SrCl2 was identified as hydrated Ca and Sr carbonates by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Liquid media experiments showed M.gramineum possessed the highest Sr2+ removal ability, and ∼49% of supplied Sr2+ was removed from solution when grown in media amended with urea and 50mM SrCl2. Furthermore, this organism could also precipitate 56% of the available Ca2+ and 28% of the Sr2+ in the form of CaCO3, SrCO3 and (CaxSr1-x)CO3 when incubated in urea-amended media and equivalent CaCl2 and SrCl2 concentrations. This is the first report of biomineralization of olekminskite and coprecipitation of Sr into vaterite mediated by fungi. These findings suggest that urease-positive fungi could play an important role in the environmental fate, bioremediation or biorecovery of Sr or other metals and radionuclides that form insoluble carbonates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3082-3097
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number8
Early online date30 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015

Bibliographical note


The authors gratefully acknowledge the help of Martin Kierans (Central Imaging Facility, College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, UK) and Dr. Yongchang Fan (Division of Physics, University of Dundee, UK) for assistance with scanning electron microscopy, and Mrs Sylvia Williamson (School of Chemistry, University of St Andrews, UK) and Dr. Aida Fuente Cuesta (School of Chemistry, University of St Andrews, UK) for assistance with Fourier transform infrared spectrometry. We also acknowledge financial support from the China Scholarship Council through a PhD scholarship to Q.L. (No. 201206120066). G.M.G. gratefully acknowledges an award under the 1000 Talents Plan with the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi, China.


  • Fungi
  • Calcareous soil


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