Lead (Pb)

Lead (Pb) ranks as a major anthropogenic pollutant because it is used extensively by industry, with mining industry and fossil fuel burning accounting for significant levels of lead released into the environment. Various industrial activities including the production of batteries, ammunition, plumbing, alloys, lead crystal glassware, shields for X-ray equipment and nuclear reactors employ Pb as a raw material. Lead ion, Pb(II), is highly toxic to all biological systems, inhibiting cell growth with detrimental effects on protein synthesis, and leading to alteration of the osmotic balance, enzyme inhibition, nucleic acid damage, disruption of membrane functions and oxidative phosphorylation.

This topic explores the complex chemistry of Pb vis-à-vis bacteria in the framework of resource recovery and bioremediation of industrial effluents.

Collaborator: Larry Barton (University of New Mexico, USA)

Biogenic PbS (galena) produced by microbial metabolism