Effects of Lichens on Uranium Migration


The lichen Trapelia involuta from uraniferous spoil heaps in Cornwall, England, growing directly on the secondary uranium minerals, metazeunerite and metatorbernite, was examined by field-emission scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy to assess the effect of Trapelia on uranium migration. We observed metazeunerite, sericite and scorodite as well as unidentified Fe-, Pb/As-, Fe/As-, Al/P-, Pb-bearing minerals concentrated in the lichen exciple and medulla. In addition, metazeunerite also occurred in the epithecium. The chemistries, sizes, and occurrences of the above minerals in the lichen suggest that fixation of U as well as Pb, As, Fe, and Al is dependent on lichen physiological processes. We suggest Trapelia accumulates these elements from groundwater and precipitates the above minerals within specific tissues. Our results indicate that some lichens retard uranium migration by accumulating uranium from groundwater and forming uranium-bearing minerals within their tissues.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    T.J. Beveridge and R.G.E. Murray, J. Bact., 141, 876 (1980).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    J.R. Disnar, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 45, 363 (1981).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    T.J. Beveridge, J.D. Meloche, W.S. Fyfe, and R.G.E. Murray, Appl. Environ. Microbiol., 45, 1094 (1983).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    M.G. Lorenz and W.E. Krumbein, Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol., 21, 374 (1985).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    A.E. Milodowski, J.M. West, J.M. Pearce, E.K. Hyslop, I.R. Basham, and P.J. Hooker, Nature, 347, 465 (1990).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Y. Suzuki and J.F. Banfield, in Reviews in mineralogy, 38 (eds P.C. Burns and R. Finch), pp. 393–432 (Mineralogical Society of America, 1999).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    T.H. Nash, in Lichen Biology (Ed T.H. Nash), 303p (Cambridge, UK, 1996).

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    J.R. Haas, E.H. Bailey, and O.W. Purvis, Am. Mineral., 83, 1494 (1998).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    J.W. Sheard, Can. J. Bot., 64, 2446 (1985).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    J.W. Sheard, Can. J. Bot., 64, 2453 (1985).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    L. McLean, O.W. Purvis, B.J. Williamson, and E.H. Bailey, Nature, 391, 649 (1998).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    H. Mann and W.S. Fyfe, Can. J. Earth Sci., 22, 1899 (1985).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Y.A. Gorby and D.R. Lovely, Environ. Sci. Technol., 26, 205 (1992).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    L.E. Macaskie, R.M. Empson, A.K. Cheetham, C.P.A. Grey, and J. Skarnuli, Science, 257, 782 (1992)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    L.J.R. Boileau, E. Nieboer, and D.H.S. Richardson, Can. J. Bot., 63, 384 (1985).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    W.W. Baker, J.R. Haas, Y. Suzuki, and J.F. Banfield, Geol. Soc. Am. Abst., 205 (1998).

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    G.M. Gadd, New Phytologist, 124, 25 (1993).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    D.H. Brown and R.P. Beckett, Lichenologist, 16, 173 (1984).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    D.H. Brown and A. Avalos, Symbiosis, 11, 299 (1991).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Takeshi Kasama.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kasama, T., Murakami, T., Ohnuki, T. et al. Effects of Lichens on Uranium Migration. MRS Online Proceedings Library 663, 683 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-663-683

Download citation