Sorption of radioiodide in an acidic nutrient-poor boreal bog: Insights into the microbial impact

Merja Lusa (Corresponding Author), Malin Bomberg, H. Aromaa, J. Knuutinen, J. Lehto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Batch sorption experiments were conducted to evaluate the sorption behaviour of iodide and the microbial impact on iodide sorption in the surface moss, subsurface peat, gyttja, and clay layers of a nutrient-poor boreal bog. The batch distribution coefficient (Kd) values of iodide decreased as a function of sampling depth. The highest Kd values, 4800 L/Kg dry weight (DW) (geometric mean), were observed in the fresh surface moss and the lowest in the bottom clay (geometric mean 90 mL/g DW). In the surface moss, peat and gyttja layers, which have a high organic matter content (on average 97%), maximum sorption was observed at a pH between ~4 and 5 and in the clay layer at pH 2. The Kd values were significantly lower in sterilized samples, being 20-fold lower than the values found for the unsterilized samples. In addition, the recolonization of sterilized samples with a microbial population from the fresh samples restored the sorption capacity of surface moss, peat and gyttja samples, indicating that the decrease in the sorption was due to the destruction of microbes and supporting the hypothesis that microbes are necessary for the incorporation of iodide into the organic matter. Anoxic conditions reduced the sorption of iodide in fresh, untreated samples, similarly to the effect of sterilization, which supports the hypothesis that iodide is oxidized into I2/HIO before incorporation into the organic matter. Furthermore, the Kd values positively correlated with peroxidase activity in surface moss, subsurface peat and gyttja layers at +20°C, and with the bacterial cell counts obtained from plate count agar at +4°C. Our results demonstrate the importance of viable microbes for the sorption of iodide in the bog environment, having a high organic matter content and a low pH.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-122
JournalJournal of Environmental Radioactivity
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • sorption
  • radioiodides
  • peat
  • microbes
  • bacteria
  • radionuclides


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