Bioaccumulation of metals by algae from acid mine drainage: a case study of Frongoch Mine (UK)

Tianhao Du, Anna Bogush, Paul Edwards, Peter Stanley, Ana T. Lombardi, Luiza C. Campos

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10 Citations (Scopus)
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In Frongoch Mine (UK), it is unclear the distribution of metals on indigenous algae and whether these species of algae can accumulate metals. This study aimed to investigate the role of indigenous algae for metal removal from acid mine drainage and understand if metals can be adsorbed on the surface of algae or/and bioaccumulated in algae. A sequential extraction procedure was applied for algae samples collected from acid mine drainage (AMD) water to identify the forms in which metals are found in algae. Concentrations of Fe, Pb, Zn, Cu and Cd were evaluated in the algae and AMD samples were collected in June and October 2019. AMDs samples had a pH value ranging between 3.5 and 6.9 and high concentrations of Zn (351 mg/L) and Pb (4.22 mg/L) that exceeded the water quality standards (Water Framework Directive, 2015). Algae Ulothrix sp. and Oedogonium sp. were the two main species in the Frongoch AMDs. The concentrations of metals in algae ranged from 0.007 to 51 mg/g, and the bioconcentration factor of metals decreased in the following order: Fe > > Pb > > Cu > Cd > Zn. It was found that Zn, Cu and Cd were adsorbed onto the surface of and bioaccumulated in the algae, while Pb and Fe were mainly bioaccumulated in the algae. Indigenous algae can be considered as a biogeochemical barrier where metals are accumulating and can be used in bioremediation methods. Also, indigenous algae could be used as a bioindicator to assess water pollution at Frongoch Mine and other similar metal mines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32261-32270
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number21
Early online date14 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit licenses/ by/4. 0/.


The authors are grateful to Dr Thais Garcia da Sliva (Federal University of São Carlos, Brazil) for providing support in the identification of the algae cells and Dr Utku Solpuker (University College London) for assisting with the ICP analyses and algae digestion. Natural Resources Wales is acknowledged for providing AMD water samples. Ana T. Lombardi is grateful to FAPESP (2019/26571-0) and CNPq (304280/2019-4). The authors are also grateful to Dr Nina M Menichino ( Natural Resources Wales) for providing comments on the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Acid mine drainage
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Bioindicator
  • Green algae
  • Hyperaccumulation
  • Metals removal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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