The anoxic, alkaline hydrolysis of cellulosic materials generates a range of cellulose degradation products (CDP) including α and β forms of isosaccharinic acid (ISA) and is expected to occur in radioactive waste disposal sites receiving intermediate level radioactive wastes. The generation of ISA's is of particular relevance to the disposal of these wastes since they are able to form complexes with radioelements such as Pu enhancing their migration. This study demonstrates that microbial communities present in near-surface anoxic sediments are able to degrade CDP including both forms of ISA via iron reduction, sulphate reduction and methanogenesis, without any prior exposure to these substrates. No significant difference (n = 6, p = 0.118) in α and β ISA degradation rates were seen under either iron reducing, sulphate reducing or methanogenic conditions, giving an overall mean degradation rate of 4.7 × 10(-2) hr(-1) (SE ± 2.9 × 10(-3)). These results suggest that a radioactive waste disposal site is likely to be colonised by organisms able to degrade CDP and associated ISA's during the construction and operational phase of the facility.
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- Department of Biological and Geographical Sciences - Professor and Head of Department for Biological and Geographical Sciences
- School of Applied Sciences
- Institute of Skin Integrity and Infection Prevention - Management Group
- Microbial Therapeutics and Infection Control Centre - Director
- Centre for Human and Physical Geography - Associate Member
- Technical Textiles Research Centre - Associate Member
- Centre for Engineering Materials - Associate Member
- Biorefinery Engineering and Bioprocessing Research Centre - Associate Member