Three different forms of Polyporus versicolor, i.e. alkali-pretreated, heat-inactivated and active, were used for the removal of the divalent ions of Group JIB elements from aquatic systems. The biosorption of Zn(II), Cd(II) and Hg(II) ions on three different forms of P. versicolor was studied in aqueous solutions in the concentration range of 30-700 mg/l. Maximum biosorption capacities of alkali-pretreated, heat-inactivated and active forms of P. versicolor was found as 139.3, 70.8, and 54.1 mg/g for Zn(II); 232.2, 118.2, and 90.0 mg/g for Cd(II) and 290.3 168.9, and 131.4 mg/g for Hg(11), respectively. For the divalent ions of Group 1111 elements, the order of affinity of the biosorbents was found as, NaOH treated > heat-inactivated > active. The order of the amount of metal ions adsorbed, on the other hand, was, Hg(II) > Cd(II) > Zn(II) on a weight base. The electro-negativities and standard electrode potentials of these elements show a definite trend with the biosorption capacity values. Biosorption equilibria were established in about 60 min and the equilibria were well described by Langmuir isotherms. Temperature change between 15 and 45 degreesC did not affect the biosorption capacity. The effect of pH was also investigated and the maximum biosorption of metal ions on the three different forms of P. versicolor were observed at pH 6.0. The reusability experiments and synthetic wastewater studies were carried out with the most effective form; alkali-pretreated P. versicolor. The biosorbent could be regenerated using 10 mM HCl solution, with up to 98% recovery and it could be reused in five biosorption-desorption cycles without any considerable loss in biosorption capacity. The alkali-treated P. versicolor removed 60, 73, and 81% of Zn(II), Cd(II) and Hg(II) ions from synthetic wastewater samples, respectively. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.