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Influence of Oxygen and Nitrate on Fe (Hydr)oxide Mineral Transformation and Soil Microbial Communities during Redox Cycling

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journal contribution
posted on 07.03.2016, 00:00 by Jacqueline Mejia, Eric E. Roden, Matthew Ginder-Vogel
Oscillations between reducing and oxidizing conditions are observed at the interface of anaerobic/oxic and anaerobic/anoxic environments, and are often stimulated by an alternating flux of electron donors (e.g., organic carbon) and electron acceptors (e.g., O2 and NO3). In iron (Fe) rich soils and sediments, these oscillations may stimulate the growth of both Fe-reducing bacteria (FeRB) and Fe-oxidizing bacteria (FeOB), and their metabolism may induce cycling between Fe­(II) and Fe­(III), promoting the transformation of Fe (hydr)­oxide minerals. Here, we examine the mineralogical evolution of lepidocrocite and ferrihydrite, and the adaptation of a natural microbial community to alternating Fe-reducing (anaerobic with addition of glucose) and Fe-oxidizing (with addition of nitrate or air) conditions. The growth of FeRB (e.g., Geobacter) is stimulated under anaerobic conditions in the presence of glucose. However, the abundance of these organisms depends on the availability of Fe­(III) (hydr)­oxides. Redox cycling with nitrate results in decreased Fe­(II) oxidation thereby decreasing the availability of Fe­(III) for FeRB. Additionally, magnetite is detected as the main product of both lepidocrocite and ferrihydrite reduction. In contrast, introduction of air results in increased Fe­(II) oxidation, increasing the availability of Fe­(III) and the abundance of Geobacter. In the lepidocrocite reactors, Fe­(II) oxidation by dissolved O2 promotes the formation of ferrihydrite and lepidocrocite, whereas in the ferrihydrite reactors we observe a decrease in magnetite stoichiometry (e.g., oxidation). Understanding Fe (hydr)­oxide transformation under environmentally relevant redox cycling conditions provides insight into nutrient availability and transport, contaminant mobility, and microbial metabolism in soils and sediments.