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Population Changes in a Community of Alkaliphilic Iron-Reducing Bacteria Due to Changes in the Electron Acceptor: Implications for Bioremediation at Alkaline Cr(VI)-Contaminated Sites

Fuller, Samuel J., Burke, Ian T., McMillan, Duncan G. G., Ding, Weixuan, Stewart, Douglas I.
Water, air, and soil pollution 2015 v.226 no.6 pp. 180
Clostridium, Tissierella, aquifers, bacteria, bacterial communities, bioremediation, chromium, coatings, culture media, electron transfer, enrichment culture, inoculum, iron, microbial growth, pH, riboflavin, sand, soil
A serial enrichment culture has been grown in an alkaline Fe(III)-citrate-containing medium from an initial inoculum from a soil layer beneath a chromium ore processing residue (COPR) disposal site where Cr(III) is accumulating from Cr(VI) containing leachate. This culture is dominated by two bacterial genera in the order Clostridiales, Tissierella, and an unnamed Clostridium XI subgroup. This paper investigates the growth characteristics of the culture when Cr(VI) is added to the growth medium and when aquifer sand is substituted for Fe(III)-citrate. The aim is to determine how the availability and chemical form of Fe(III) affects the growth of the bacterial consortium, to determine the impact of Cr(VI) on growth, and thus attempt to understand the factors that are controlling Cr(III) accumulation beneath the COPR site. The culture can grow fermentatively at pH 9.2, but growth is stronger when it is associated with Fe(III) reduction. It can withstand Cr(VI) in the medium, but growth only occurs once Cr(VI) is removed from solution. Cr(VI) reduced the abundance of Tissierella sp. in the culture, whereas the Clostridium XI sp. was Cr(VI) tolerant. In contrast, growth with solid phase Fe(III)-oxyhydroxides (present as coatings on aquifer sand) favoured the Tissierella C sp., possibly because it produces riboflavin as an extracellular electron shuttling compound allowing more efficient electron transfer to solid Fe(III) phases. Thus, it is suggested that bacterially mediated Cr(III) reduction in the soil beneath the COPR site is dependent on Fe(III) reduction to sustain the bacterial community.