Effect of copper and lead on two consortia of phototrophic microorganisms and their capacity to sequester metals

A. Burgos, J. Maldonado, A. De los Rios, A. Solé, I. Esteve

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17 Citations (Scopus)


The roles of consortia of phototrophic microorganisms have been investigated in this paper to determine their potential role to tolerate or resist metals and to capture them from polluted cultures. With this purpose, two consortia of microorganisms: on one hand, Geitlerinema sp. DE2011 (Ge) and Scenedesmus sp. DE2009 (Sc) (both identified in this paper by molecular biology methods) isolated from Ebro Delta microbial mats, and on the other, Spirulina sp. PCC 6313 (Sp) and Chroococcus sp. PCC 9106 (Ch), from Pasteur culture collection were polluted with copper and lead. In order to analyze the ability of these consortia to tolerate and capture metals, copper and lead were selected, because both have been detected in Ebro Delta microbial mats. Thetolerance-resistance to copper and lead for both consortia was determined in vivo and at cellular level by Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy (CLSM.- λscan function). The results obtained demonstrate that both consortia are highly tolerant-resistant to lead and that the limits between the copper concentration having cytotoxic effect and that having an essential effect are very close in these microorganisms. Thecapacity of both consortia to capture extra- and intracellular copper and lead was determined by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) respectively, coupled to an Energy Dispersive X-ray detector (EDX). The results showed that all the microorganisms assayed were able to capture copper extracellularly in the extrapolymeric substances, and lead extra- and intracellularly in polyphosphate inclusions. Moreover, the studied micro-organisms did not exert any inhibitory effect on each other's metal binding capacity. Fromthe results obtained in this paper, it can be concluded that consortia of phototrophic microorganisms could play a very important role in biorepairing sediments polluted by metals, as a result of their ability to tolerate or resist high concentrations of metals and to bioaccumulate them, extra- and intracellulary. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-336
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2013


  • CLSM
  • Copper
  • EDX
  • Lead
  • Phototrophic - Microorganisms
  • SEM
  • TEM


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