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Fungal Iron Biomineralization in Río Tinto

Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa, Nicolás Cabrera 1, 28049 Madrid, Spain
Centro de Astrobiología, Ctra, Torrejón-Ajalvir, Km. 4, 28850 Madrid, Spain
Instituto de Catálisis y Petroquímica (CSIC), Marie Curie 2, 28049 Madrid, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Karim Benzerara, Jennyfer Miot and Thibaud Coradin
Minerals 2016, 6(2), 37;
Received: 1 January 2016 / Revised: 30 March 2016 / Accepted: 12 April 2016 / Published: 18 April 2016
PDF [4221 KB, uploaded 18 April 2016]


Although there are many studies on biomineralization processes, most of them focus on the role of prokaryotes. As fungi play an important role in different geological and biogeochemical processes, it was considered of interest to evaluate their role in a natural extreme acidic environment, Río Tinto, which has a high level of fungal diversity and a high concentration of metals. In this work we report, for the first time, the generation of iron oxyhydroxide minerals by the fungal community in a specific location of the Tinto basin. Using Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) and High Angle Angular Dark Field coupled with Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (HAADF-STEM) and Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDX), we observed fungal structures involved in the formation of iron oxyhydroxide minerals in mineralized sediment samples from the Río Tinto basin. Although Río Tinto waters are supersaturated in these minerals, they do not precipitate due to their slow precipitation kinetics. The presence of fungi, which simply provide charged surfaces for metal binding, favors the precipitation of Fe oxyhydroxides by overcoming these kinetic barriers. These results prove that the fungal community of Río Tinto participates very actively in the geochemical processes that take place there. View Full-Text
Keywords: Río Tinto; biomineralization; fungi; iron mineralization Río Tinto; biomineralization; fungi; iron mineralization

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Oggerin, M.; Tornos, F.; Rodriguez, N.; Pascual, L.; Amils, R. Fungal Iron Biomineralization in Río Tinto. Minerals 2016, 6, 37.

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