American Chemical Society
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Nitrite Accumulation Is Required for Microbial Anaerobic Iron Oxidation, but Not for Arsenite Oxidation, in Two Heterotrophic Denitrifiers

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-03-13, 21:18 authored by Jun Zhang, Cheng-Wei Chai, Laurel K. ThomasArrigo, Shi-Chen Zhao, Ruben Kretzschmar, Fang-Jie Zhao
Phylogenetically diverse species of bacteria can mediate anaerobic oxidation of ferrous iron [Fe­(II)] and/or arsenite [As­(III)] coupled to nitrate reduction, impacting the biogeochemical cycles of Fe and As. However, the mechanisms for nitrate-dependent anaerobic oxidation of Fe­(II) and As­(III) remain unclear. In this study, we isolated two bacterial strains from arsenic-contaminated paddy soils, Ensifer sp. ST2 and Paracoccus sp. QY30. Both strains were capable of anaerobic As­(III) oxidation, but only QY30 could oxidize Fe­(II) under nitrate-reducing conditions. Both strains contain the As­(III) oxidase gene aioA, whose expression was induced greatly by As­(III) exposure. Both strains contain the whole suite of genes for complete denitrification, but the nitrite reductase gene nirK was not expressed in QY30 and nitrite accumulated under nitrate-reducing conditions. When the functional nirK gene was knocked out in strain ST2, its nitrite reduction ability was completely abolished and nitrite accumulated in the medium. Moreover, the ST2ΔnirK mutant gained the ability to oxidize Fe­(II). When nirK gene from ST2 was introduced to QY30, the recombinant strain QY30::nirK gained the ability to reduce nitrite but lost the ability to oxidize Fe­(II). These genetic manipulations did not affect the ability of both strains to oxidize As­(III). Our results indicate that nitrite accumulation is required for anaerobic oxidation of Fe­(II) but not for As­(III) oxidation in these strains. The results suggest that anaerobic Fe­(II) oxidation in the two bacterial strains is primarily driven by abiotic reaction of Fe­(II) with nitrite, while reduction of nitrate to nitrite is sufficient for redox coupling with anaerobic As­(III) oxidation catalyzed by Aio. Deletion of nirK gene in denitrifiers can enhance anaerobic Fe­(II) oxidation.