Microorganisms play an important role in the mineralization of heavy metals in different environments. Previous studies have reported the phosphate mineralization of light (Ce) and heavy (Yb) rare earth elements with yeast. However, little is known about differences in the biomineralization process of middle rare earth elements (including Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb and Dy) by yeast and bacteria. We carried out a series of experiments to compare the sorption process of Sm by Saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast), Pseudomonas fluorescens (gram-negative bacteria) and Bacillus subtilis (gram-positive bacteria) in initial pH 3, 4 and 5 solutions. The concentrations of Sm in exposure solutions decreased as a function of exposure time in all three systems, which revealed the accumulation of Sm by cells. In both yeast and bacteria systems, Sm(III) was mineralized to monazite(Sm) phase particles on cell surfaces at 5 days of exposure after a short-term adsorption process. In these three systems, nano-sized Sm phosphate formed more quickly on cell surfaces with higher pH exposure solutions. The formation of precipitation on bacterial cell surfaces was faster than in yeast. There were no significant differences in the sorption process of Sm between the two bacteria Pseudomonas fluorescens and Bacillus subtilis.
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