Marine Bacillus spores as catalysts for oxidative precipitation and sorption of metals

Chris A. Francis, Bradley M. Tebo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The oxidation of soluble manganese(II) to insoluble Mn(III,IV) oxide precipitates plays an important role in the environment. These Mn oxides are known to oxidize numerous organic and inorganic compounds, scavenge a variety of other metals on their highly charged surfaces, and serve as electron acceptors for anaerobic respiration. Although the oxidation of Mn(II) in most environments is believed to be bacterially-mediated, the underlying mechanisms of catalysis are not well understood. In recent years, however, the application of molecular biological approaches has provided new insights into these mechanisms. Genes involved in Mn oxidation were first identified in our model organism, the marine Bacillus sp. strain SG-1, and subsequently have been identified in two other phylogenetically distinct organisms, Leptothrix discophora and Pseudomonas putida. In all three cases, enzymes related to multicopper oxidases appear to be involved, suggesting that copper may play a universal role in Mn(II) oxidation. In addition to catalyzing an environmentally important process, organisms capable of Mn(II) oxidation are potential candidates for the removal, detoxification, and recovery of metals from the environment. The Mn(II)-oxidizing spores of the marine Bacillus sp. strain SG-1 show particular promise, due to their inherent physically tough nature and unique capacity to bind and oxidatively precipitate metals without having to sustain growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-78
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Microbiology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology


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