Apatite and chitin amendments promote microbial activity and augment metal removal in marine sediments

350 210 Stroud Water Research Center

Kan, J., A. Obraztsova, Y. Wang, J. Leather, K.G. Scheckel, K.H. Nealson, and Y.M. Arias-Thode. 2013. Open Journal of Metal, Heavy Metal Special Issue 3:51–61.

doi: 10.4236/ojmetal.2013.32A1007


In situ amendments are a promising approach to enhance removal of metal contaminants from diverse environments including soil, groundwater and sediments. Apatite and chitin were selected and tested for copper, chromium, and zinc metal removal in marine sediment samples. Microbiological, molecular biological and chemical analyses were applied to investigate the role of these amendments in metal immobilization processes. Both apatite and chitin promoted microbial growth. These amendments induced corresponding bacterial groups including sulfide producers, iron reducers, and phosphate solubilizers; all that facilitated heavy metal immobilization and removal from marine sediments. Molecular biological approaches showed chitin greatly induced microbial population shifts in sediments and overlying water: chitin only, or chitin with apatite induced growth of bacterial groups such as AcidobacteriaBetaproteobacteriaEpsilonproteobacteria, Firmicutes, PlanctomycetesRhodospirillaceaeSpirochaetes, and Verrucomicrobia; whereas these bacteria were not present in the control. Community structures were also altered under treatments with increase of relative abundance of Deltaproteobacteria and decrease of ActinobacteriaAlphaproteobacteria, and Nitrospirae. Many  of these groups of bacteria have been shown to be involved in metal reduction and immobilization. Chemical analysis  of pore and overlying water also demonstrated metal immobilization primarily under chitin treatments. X-Ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) spectra showed more sorbed Zn occurred over time in both apatite and chitin treatments (from 9% – 27%). The amendments improved zinc immobilization in marine sediments that led to significant changes in   the mineralogy: easily mobile Zn hydroxide phase was converted to an immobile Zn phosphate (hopeite). In-situ amendment of apatite and chitin offers a great bioremediation potential for marine sediments contaminated with heavy metals.