More than 100 million individuals worldwide are exposed to arsenic-contaminated water, making the investigation of arsenic mobility in aquatic systems of utmost importance. Iron (hydr)oxides play a key role in preventing arsenic release in aquifers and soils due to their strong arsenic sorption and are even used to remove arsenic in water treatment Neutrophilic Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria produce Fe(III) minerals and therefore have the potential to affect arsenic mobility. In the present study, we demonstrate that the metabolism of anaerobic nitrate-reducing and phototrophic Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria is not significantly affected by arsenate concentrations of up to 500 mu M (37.5 mg/L). Even in the presence of the more toxic arsenic species, arsenite, cell metabolism was significantly impaired only at the highest arsenite concentration (500 mu M) for one of the Fe(II)-oxidizers. All Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria tested effectively immobilized arsenic during Fe(II) oxidation (>96%), lowering the remaining dissolved arsenic concentrations to values close to or even lower than the current drinking water limit of 10 mu g/L Since the minerals formed by these bacteria included highly crystalline Fe(III) minerals that are hardly reducible by Fe(III)-reducing bacteria, stimulation of arsenic immobilization by Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria can potentially support water treatment systems or even be applied as an effective remediation strategy.
Hohmann, Claudia Winkler, Eva Morin, Guillaume Kappler, Andreas