Author(s): Rhine ED, GarciaDominguez E, Phelps CD, Young LY
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Abstract Naturally occurring arsenic is found predominantly as arsenate [As(V)] or arsenite [As(III)], and can be readily oxidized or reduced by microorganisms. Given the health risks associated with arsenic in groundwater and the interest in arsenic-active microorganisms, we hypothesized that environmental microorganisms could mediate a redox cycling of arsenic that is linked to their metabolism. This hypothesis was tested using an As(V) respiring reducer (strain Y5) and an aerobic chemoautotrophic As(II) oxidizer (strain OL1 ) both isolated from a Superfund site, Onondaga Lake, in Syracuse, NY. Strains were grown separately and together in sealed serum bottles, and the oxic/anoxic condition was the only parameter changed. Initially, under anoxic conditions when both isolates were grown together, 2 mM As(V) was stoichiometrically reduced to As(III) within 14 days. Following complete reduction, sterile ambient air was added and within 24 h As(III) was completely oxidized to As(V). The anoxic-oxic cycle was repeated, and sterile controls showed no abiotic transformation within the 28-day incubation period. These results demonstrate that microorganisms can cycle arsenic in response to dynamic environmental conditions, thereby affecting the speciation, and hence mobility and toxicity of arsenic in the environment.
This article was published in Environ Sci Technol
and referenced in Journal of Bioremediation & Biodegradation