Bioremediation of Heavy Metal Contaminated Soils Originated from Iron Ore Mine by Bio-augmentation with Native Cyanobacteria

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

2 Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

3 School of Life Sciences, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, Australia


The soil in the Sangan iron-mining region in the east of Iran is contaminated with a high concentration of heavy metals, especially iron. The release of these pollutants into environment results in the transfer and accumulation of iron through the food chains, hence a reasonable solution is required to restore it. Bioaugmentation is an environmental friendly option to reduce the hazard effects of heavy metal in the contaminated soil. In this study, the consortia of two indigenous cyanobacteria isolated from soil of Sangan iron mining and used to bioremediate soil contaminated with iron, chromium, copper, lead, and nickel. The experiments were carried out by three treatment methods, including control soil, surface soil sprayed with cyanobacteria, and soil mixed with cyanobacteria for six months under laboratory condition. The scanning electron microscope showed the development of a network of filaments of the inoculated cyanobacteria (Oscillatoria sp. and Leptolyngbya sp.) with soil particles in both treatments. Bio-augmentation of the soil increased initial nitrogen content from 406 mg/kg in control to 664 mg/kg in soil mixed with cyanobacteria and 710 mg/kg in soil sprayed with cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria inoculation decreased the available concentration of lead and nickel. The non-available heavy metal of soil in sample sprayed with cyanobacteria was in decreasing order: Cr > Fe > Ni > As > Pb > Cu. The maximum metal removal efficiency was 32%. In soil mixed with cyanobacteria increased in the root and hypocotyl lengths of radish and lettuce was observed compared to that in the control soil, indicated in the improvement of soil quality after bioremediation.