University of Dundee

Geomicrobiology Group


Transformations of metals and minerals by microorganisms, bioweathering and bioremediation

The Geomicrobiology Group carries out research on the geoactive properties of microorganisms in order to understand their importance in key biosphere processes and their applied potential. The prime focus is on metal-mineral transformations with most research under the heading of geomycology, the roles of fungi as geoactive agents. We are particularly interested in understanding physiological and morphological responses to toxic metals and mineral substrates, mechanisms of mineral dissolution, and the formation of novel mycogenic biominerals, especially carbonates, phosphates, oxides and oxalates. Research of applied significance that builds on our fundamental research includes the application of metal-mineral-microbe transformations for bioremediation of metals, metalloids and radionuclides, nuclear decommissioning, biofertilizers (phosphate release), and the production of mineral-based biomaterials. We are also interested in the biodeterioration of rock and mineral-based structural materials including concrete and cultural artefacts, as well as biocorrosion of metals. Research on the functional consequences and mathematical modelling of fungal growth in heterogeneous environments is carried out with Dr Fordyce Davidson, Division of Mathematics. Previous research has also included work with aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, cyanobacteria and microalgae in relation to toxic metal accumulation, metal bioprecipitation, and investigation of the responses of soil microbial communities to metals and organic pollutants. We are also affiliated to the Division of Molecular Microbiology.


  1. Li, Q., Csetenyi,L. and Gadd, G.M. (2014). Biomineralization of metal carbonates by Neurospora crassa. Environmental Science and Technology 48, 14409-14416.
  2. Gadd, G. M., Bahri-Esfahani, J., Li, Q., Rhee, Y.J., Wei, Z., 1, Fomina, M., Liang, X. (2014). Oxalate production by fungi: significance in geomycology, biodeterioration and bioremediation. Fungal Biology Reviews 28, 36–55 (invited review).
  3. Rhee, Y.J., Hillier, S., Pendlowski, H. and Gadd, G.M. (2014). Pyromorphite formation in a fungal biofilm community growing on lead metal. Environmental Microbiology 16, 1441–1451.
  4. Rhee, Y.J., Hillier, S., Pendlowski, H. and Gadd, G.M. (2014). Fungal transformation of metallic lead to pyromorphite in liquid medium. Chemosphere 113, 17-21.
  5. Wei, Z., Liang, X., Pendlowski, H., Hillier, S., Suntornvongsagul, K., Sihanonth, P. and Gadd, G.M. (2013) Fungal biotransformation of zinc silicate and sulfide mineral ores. Environmental Microbiology 15: 2173-2176
  6. Pinzari, F., Tate, J., Bicchieri, M.,  Rhee, Y.J., and Gadd, G.M. (2013) Biodegradation of ivory (natural apatite): possible involvement of fungal activity in biodeterioration of the Lewis Chessmen. Environmental Microbiology 15: 1050–1062.
  7. Kangwankraiphaisan, T., Suntornvongsagul, K., Sihanonth, P., Klysubun, W. and Gadd, G.M. (2013).  Influence of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) on zinc biogeochemistry in the rhizosphere of Lindenbergia philippensis growing in zinc-contaminated sediment. Biometals 26, 489–505.
  8. Rhee, Y.J., Hillier, S., and Gadd, G.M. (2012). Lead transformation to pyromorphite by fungi. Current Biology 22: 237-241.
  9. Wei, Z., Hillier, S. and  Gadd, G.M. (2012). Biotransformation of manganese oxides by fungi: solubilization and production of manganese oxalate biominerals.Environmental Microbiology 14:1744-1753.
  10. Gadd, G.M. (2010). Metals, minerals and microbes: geomicrobiology and bioremediation (Colworth Prize Lecture). Microbiology 156: 609 – 643.
  11. Gadd, G.M. and Raven, J.A. (2010). Geomicrobiology of eukaryotic microorganisms. Geomicrobiology Journal 27: 491-519.
  12. Fomina, M., Burford, E.P., Hillier, S., Kierans, M. and Gadd, G.M. (2010). Rock-building fungi. Geomicrobiology Journal 27: 624-629.
  13. Fomina, M., Charnock, J.M., Hillier, S., Alvarez, R., Livens, F. and Gadd, G.M.  (2008). Role of fungi in the biogeochemical fate of depleted uranium. Current Biology  18: 375-377.


Principal Investigators

Professor Geoff Gadd FSB FLS FLSW FRSE
Boyd Baxter Chair of Biology
Geomicrobiology, Geomycology and Bioremediation