Cobalt toxicity in anaerobic granular sludge: influence of chemical speciation

J. Bartacek, F.G. Fermoso, A.M. Baldo-Urrutia, E.D. van Hullebusch, P.N.L. Lens

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The influence of cobalt speciation on the toxicity of cobalt to methylotrophic methanogenesis in anaerobic granular sludge was investigated. The cobalt speciation was studied with three different media that contained varying concentrations of complexing ligands [carbonates, phosphates and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA)]. Three fractions (nominal added, dissolved and free) of cobalt were determined in the liquid media and were correlated with data from batch toxicity experiments. The average concentration of cobalt that was required for 50% inhibition of methanogenic activity (IC50) for free Co2+ in the three sets of measurements was 13 mu mol/L with a standard deviation of 22% and a similarity of 72% between the data obtained in the three different media for the range of cobalt concentrations investigated. The standard deviation of the IC50 for the other two fractions was much higher, i.e. 85 and 144% for the added cobalt and dissolved cobalt, respectively, and the similarity was almost 0% for both fractions. Complexation (and precipitation) with EDTA, phosphates and carbonates was shown to decrease the toxicity of cobalt on methylotrophic methanogenesis. The free cobalt concentration is proposed to be the key parameter to correlate with cobalt toxicity. Thus, the toxicity of cobalt to granular sludge can be estimated based on the equilibrium-free cobalt concentration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1465-1474
JournalJournal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • donnan membrane technique
  • metal-ion concentrations
  • trace-metals
  • sequential extraction
  • organic-matter
  • biotic ligand
  • heavy-metals
  • methanol
  • bioavailability
  • deprivation

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    Bartacek, J., Fermoso, F. G., Baldo-Urrutia, A. M., van Hullebusch, E. D., & Lens, P. N. L. (2008). Cobalt toxicity in anaerobic granular sludge: influence of chemical speciation. Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, 35(11), 1465-1474.