Toronto Metropolitan University
1-s2.0-S2405844018314658-main.pdf (1.45 MB)

Bacterial diversity and production of sulfide in microcosms containing uncompacted bentonites

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-22, 17:09 authored by Alexander A. Grigoryan, Daphne R. Jalique, Prabhakara Medihala, Simcha Stroes-Gascoyne, Gideon WolfaardtGideon Wolfaardt, Jennifer McKelvie, Darren R. Korber


This study examined the diversity and sulfide-producing activity of microorganisms in microcosms containing commercial clay products (e.g., MX-80, Canaprill and National Standard) similar to materials which are currently considered for use in the design specifications for deep geologic repositories (DGR) for spent nuclear fuel.

Methods and results

In anoxic microcosms incubated for minimum of 60 days with 10 g l-1 NaCl, sulfide production varied with temperature, electron donor and bentonite type. Maximum specific sulfide production rates of 0.189 d−1, 0.549 d−1 and 0.157 d−1 occurred in lactate-fed MX-80, Canaprill and National Standard microcosms, respectively. In microcosms with 50 g l-1 NaCl, sulfide production was inhibited. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) profiling of microcosms revealed the presence of bacterial classes Clostridia, Bacilli, Gammaproteobacteria, Deltaproteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Sphingobacteriia and Erysipelotrichia. Spore-forming and non-spore-forming bacteria were confirmed in microcosms using high-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Sulfate-reducing bacteria of the genus Desulfosporosinus predominated in MX-80 microcosms; whereas, Desulfotomaculum and Desulfovibrio genera contributed to sulfate-reduction in National Standard and Canaprill microcosms.


Commercial clays microcosms harbour a sparse bacterial population dominated by spore-forming microorganisms. Detected sulfate- and sulfur-reducing bacteria presumably contributed to sulfide accumulation in the different microcosm systems.

Significance and impact of study

The use of carbon-supplemented, clay-in-water microcosms offered insights into the bacterial diversity present in as-received clays, along with the types of metabolic and sulfidogenic reactions that might occur in regions of a DGR (e.g., interfaces between the bulk clay and host rock, cracks, fissures, etc.) that fail to attain target parameters necessary to inhibit microbial growth and activity.




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