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Coupled Aerobic Methane Oxidation and Arsenate Reduction Contributes to Soil-Arsenic Mobilization in Agricultural Fields

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posted on 2022-08-16, 08:11 authored by Ling-Dong Shi, Yu-Jie Zhou, Xian-Jin Tang, Andreas Kappler, Ludmila Chistoserdova, Li-Zhong Zhu, He-Ping Zhao
Microbial oxidation of organic compounds can promote arsenic release by reducing soil-associated arsenate to the more mobile form arsenite. While anaerobic oxidation of methane has been demonstrated to reduce arsenate, it remains elusive whether and to what extent aerobic methane oxidation (aeMO) can contribute to reductive arsenic mobilization. To fill this knowledge gap, we performed incubations of both microbial laboratory cultures and soil samples from arsenic-contaminated agricultural fields in China. Incubations with laboratory cultures showed that aeMO could couple to arsenate reduction, wherein the former bioprocess was carried out by aerobic methanotrophs and the latter by a non-methanotrophic bacterium belonging to a novel and uncultivated representative of Burkholderiaceae. Metagenomic analyses combined with metabolite measurements suggested that formate served as the interspecies electron carrier linking aeMO to arsenate reduction. Such coupled bioprocesses also take place in the real world, supported by a similar stoichiometry and gene activity in the incubations with natural paddy soils, and contribute up to 76.2% of soil-arsenic mobilization into pore waters in the top layer of the soils where oxygen was present. Overall, this study reveals a previously overlooked yet significant contribution of aeMO to reductive arsenic mobilization.

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