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Research in Chemistry Division
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The Environmental Chemistry of Plutonium

Researchers in Chemistry Division are studying the interactions of actinides with microorganisms both to understand the environmental behavior of U, Np, and Pu and to provide fundamental research that can be used to develop bioremediation technologies for these radionuclides.

The research has been very successful, and has recently received international attention from such journals as Angewandte Chemie and ES&T. Please read the articles below to find out more about this exciting new science.

A feasibility study: molecular modeling was used to simulate docking of Pu(IV)-DFOE complex into the periplasmic hydroxamate-sideriophore binding protein from E. coli (FhuD) to see if Pu(IV)-DFOE could fit into the binding pocket used by Fe(III)-DFOE. The binding pocket is shown as a translucent surface, while the remaining parts of the FhuD are shown in secondary structural motifs. Pu(IV)-DFE is on the left, and Fe(III)-DFE is on the right.


Siderophores in the News

"Actinide Interactions with Microbial Chelators: How Desferrioxamine Siderophores Affect Plutonium Chemistry and Facilitate Microbial Uptake," M.P. Neu, Los Alamos Science, 26(2), 2000, 416-417

"Interactions of Pu with Desferrioxamine Siderophores Can Affect Bioavailability and Mobility," C. E. Ruggiero, M . P. Neu, J. H. Matonic, S. D. Reilly, published in 2nd/3rd Quarter, 2000 ARQ

"Microbes show promise for bioremediating plutonium," Science News in ES&T, Science News (Online--view through publisher's web site)- June 8, 2001.

"Plutonium on the Move" SCIENCE, Editors' Choice: Highlights of the recent literature, Volume 288, Number 5466, Issue of 28 April 2000.

"The First Structural Characterization of Plutonium(IV) Complexed by a Siderophore: Single Crystal Structure of Pu Desferrioxamine E," M.P. Neu, J.H. Matonic, C.E. Ruggiero, B.L. Scott, Angew. Chemie. Int. Ed. 2000, 39(8), 1442-1444.

"Siderophore Mediated Plutonium Accumulation by Microbacterium flavescens (JG-9)," Seth G. John, Christy E. Ruggiero, Larry E. Hersman, Chang-Shung Tung, and Mary P. Neu* Environ. Sci. Technol., 35(14), 2942-2948. (article must be purchased from publisher).

Previous research highlights


Siderophores (iron-binding molecules produced by plants and microorganisms) can transform plutonium from different solution and solid-state forms to a soluble plutonium-siderophore complex, such as the [Pu(IV) (Desferrioxamine E)(H2O)3]+ shown here.


.Another view of structure of Pu(IV)-DFE docked into FhuD from E. coli. These models of the docking support the hypothesis that Pu-siderophores can occupy the same binding pocket as iron siderophores, such as Fe(III)-DFOB, despite having some coordination differences.

Staff Contact
Dr. Mary P. Neu
(505) 667-9313




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