Colloidal cutin-like substances cross-linked to siderophore decomposition products mobilizing plutonium from contaminated soils. Academic Article uri icon


  • Relatively recently, inorganic colloids have been invoked to reconcile the apparent contradictions between expectations based on classical dissolved-phase Pu transport and field observations of "enhanced" Pu mobility (Kersting et al. Nature 1999, 397, 56-59). A new paradigm for Pu transport is mobilization and transport via biologically produced ligands. This study for the first time reports a new finding of Pu being transported, at sub-pM concentrations, by a cutin-like natural substance containing siderophore-like moieties and virtually all mobile Pu. Most likely, Pu is complexed by chelating groups derived from siderophores that are covalently bound to a backbone of cutin-derived soil degradation products, thus revealing the history of initial exposure to Pu. Features such as amphiphilicity and small size make this macromolecule an ideal collector for actinides and other metals and a vector for their dispersal. Cross-linking to the hydrophobic domains (e.g., by polysaccharides) gives this macromolecule high mobility and a means of enhancing Pu transport. This finding provides a new mechanism for Pu transport through environmental systems that would not have been predicted by Pu transport models.

published proceedings

  • Environ Sci Technol

author list (cited authors)

  • Xu, C., Santschi, P. H., Zhong, J. Y., Hatcher, P. G., Francis, A. J., Dodge, C. J., ... Honeyman, B. D.

citation count

  • 56

complete list of authors

  • Xu, C||Santschi, PH||Zhong, JY||Hatcher, PG||Francis, AJ||Dodge, CJ||Roberts, KA||Hung, CC||Honeyman, BD

publication date

  • November 2008