Rare earth element sequestration by Aspergillus oryzae biomass

Imre Boczonádi, Ágnes Jakab, Edina Baranyai, Csilla Noémi Tóth, Lajos Daróczi, László Csernoch, Gréta Kis, Miklós Antal, Tünde Pusztahelyi, Anja Grawunder, Dirk Merten, Tamás Emri, István Fábián, Erika Kothe, István Pócsi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The fungus Aspergillus oryzae could be shown to be a viable alternative for biosorption of valuable metals from solution. Fungal biomass can be obtained easily in high quantities as a waste of biofermentation processes, and used in a complex, multi-phase solution mimicking naturally occurring, mining-affected water samples. With test solution formulated after natural conditions, formation of secondary Al and Fe phases co-precipitating Ce was recorded in addition to specific biosorption of rare earth elements. Remarkably, the latter were removed from the solution despite the presence of high concentrations of interfering Fe and Al. The biomass was viable even after prolonged incubation in the metal solution, and minimal inhibitory concentrations for single metals were higher than those in the test solution. While precipitation/biosorption of Ce (maximal biosorption efficiency was 58.0 ± 22.3% after 6 h of incubation) coincided with the gross removal of Fe from the metal solution, Y (81.5 ± 11.3% efficiency, 24 h incubation) and Nd (87.4 ± 9.1% efficiency, 24 h incubation) were sequestered later, similarly to Ni and Zn. The biphasic binding pattern specific to single metals could be connected to dynamically changing pH and NH4 + concentrations, which were attributed to the physiological changes taking place in starving A. oryzae biomass. The metals were found extracellularly in minerals associated with the cell wall, and intracellularly precipitated in the vacuoles. The latter process was explained with intracellular metal detoxification resulting in metal resistance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Technology (United Kingdom)
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020


  • biomining
  • bioremediation
  • Biosorption
  • rare earth metals
  • uranium mine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal

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    Boczonádi, I., Jakab, Á., Baranyai, E., Tóth, C. N., Daróczi, L., Csernoch, L., Kis, G., Antal, M., Pusztahelyi, T., Grawunder, A., Merten, D., Emri, T., Fábián, I., Kothe, E., & Pócsi, I. (Accepted/In press). Rare earth element sequestration by Aspergillus oryzae biomass. Environmental Technology (United Kingdom). https://doi.org/10.1080/09593330.2020.1739146