Extent of precipitation and sorption during copper removal from synthetic wastewater in the presence of sulfate-reducing bacteria

Hsiu Feng Hsu, Mathava Kumar, Ying Shih Ma, Jih-Gaw Lin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A sulfate-reducing bacterial culture was successfully enriched from the seed sludge of anaerobic sludge digester. Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) in the enriched culture (around 42%) were characterized by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with group and genus specific 16S rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide probes. Desulfosarcina, Desulfococcus, Desulfofaba, and Desulfofrigus spp. were identified as the dominant species of the enriched SRB. Subsequently, batch experiments were conducted at initial copper and sulfate concentrations of 10 and 300 mg/L, respectively, to quantify the ability of the enriched SRB in simultaneous sulfate reduction and copper removal. Sulfate reduction efficiencies of the culture in the absence (biotic system without copper, BS-1) and the presence (biotic system with copper, BS-2) of copper were 96.8 and 98.8%, respectively, after 6 days. In BS-2, 99.2% copper removal was observed after 1 day. However, 67% of copper was removed by chemical precipitation and bioaccumulation. No significant inhibition of bacterial growth was observed at the copper concentration studied, that is, 10 mg/L. Chemical precipitation as hydroxide/carbonate caused a copper removal of 44% in AS-1 (abiotic system without lactate) and 36% in AS-2 (abiotic system with lactate), after 6 days. However, the majority of copper was removed as copper sulfide well before the occurrence of copper hydroxide precipitation. Energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) analysis of the precipitates obtained from biotic and abiotic systems confirmed the origin of copper sulfide as the result of SRB. As a whole, the results of this study could be useful to understand the mechanisms of copper removal, i.e. chemical precipitation, bioprecipitation and biosorption/bioaccumulation during sulfate reduction by SRB.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1087-1096
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Engineering Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2009


  • Bioprecipitation
  • Copper
  • Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH)
  • Sulfate reduction
  • Wastewater treatment

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