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Interaction of Soil Microbes with Organoclays and their Impact on the Immobilization of Hg under Aerobic Conditions...

by Timothy Egbo, Alexander Johs, Yazeed Abdelmageed, Jeffrey Ogbudu, Boakai Robertson
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Water, Air, and Soil Pollution
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Immobilization of mercury (Hg) leaching from bank soils of East Fork Poplar Creek (EFPC) is considered part of remediation strategies to mitigate the amount of Hg entering the creek. Different approaches are currently being evaluated, such as utilizing engineered sorbents to immobilize Hg species in EFPC bank soils. However, the influence of environmental microbes on the immobilization of Hg by sorbents is unknown. Organocation-modified phyllosilicate clay minerals (organoclays) are widely used as sorbents for the immobilization of contaminants. This study evaluates the interactions of Serratia marcescens and Burkholderia thailandensis with the sorbent Organoclay PM-199 and their impact on the immobilization of Hg under aerobic conditions. We evaluated the competitive binding of Hg between sorbents and selected microorganisms in a series of pure culture studies using bacterial strains identified in EFPC bank soil samples. Our results suggest that Hg sorption by Organoclay PM-199 is not significantly impacted by common soil bacteria present in EFPC, specifically Serratia marcescens and Burkholderia thailandensis, which are known to form biofilms. These findings suggest that sorbent amendments are an effective strategy for the remediation of Hg contamination in natural ecosystems.