In order to gain insight into the significance of biotic metal reduction and mineral formation in hyperthermophilic environments, metal mineralization as a result of the dissimilatory reduction of poorly crystalline Fe(III) oxide, and U(VI) reduction at 100 degrees C by Pyrobaculum islandicum was investigated. When P. islandicum was grown in a medium with poorly crystalline Fe(III) oxide as an electron acceptor and hydrogen as an electron donor, the Fe(III) oxide was reduced to an extracellular, ultrafine-grained magnetite with characteristics similar to that found in some hot environments and that was previously thought to be of abiotic origin. Furthermore, cell suspensions of P. islandicum rapidly reduced the soluble and oxidized form of uranium, U(VI), to extracellular precipitates of the highly insoluble U(IV) mineral, uraninite (UO(2)). The reduction of U(VI) was dependent on the presence of hydrogen as the electron donor. These findings suggest that microbes may play a key role in metal deposition in hyperthermophilic environments and provide a plausible explanation for such phenomena as magnetite accumulation and formation of uranium deposits at ca. 100 degrees C.
"Since the first discovery of Fe 3+ reduction by thermophilic enrichment cultures (Slobodkin et al., 1995), many studies have shown that thermophilic bacteria and archaea are capable of growing organotrophically with fermentable substrates or chemolithoautotrophically with molecular hydrogen when coupled with reduction of Fe 3+ to Fe 2+ (Slobodkin et al., 1997; Vargas et al., 1998; Zavarzina et al., 2007; Kashefi et al., 2002; Gavrilov et al., 2003). Furthermore , various thermophilic and hyperthermophilic archaea and bacteria have been reported to possess the ability to reduce structural Fe 3+ in ferruginous smectite with H 2 as an electron donor (Kashefi et al., 2008). The results of these studies suggest the possibility of reduction of toxic metal ions by biogenic Fe 2+ in clay minerals as an electron donor (Jaisi et al., 2009; Bishop et al., 2012; Zhang et al., 2012; Bishop et al., 2014). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite significant progress on iron reduction by thermophilic microorganisms, studies on their ability to reduce toxic metals are still limited, despite their common co-existence in high temperature environments (up to 70 °C). In this study, Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus, an obligate thermophilic methanogen, was used to reduce hexavalent chromium. Experiments were conducted in a growth medium with H2/CO2 as substrate with various Cr6+ concentrations (0.2, 0.4, 1, 3, and 5 mM) in the form of potassium dichromate (K2Cr2O7). Time-course measurements of aqueous Cr6+ concentrations using 1,5-diphenylcarbazide colorimetric method showed complete reduction of the 0.2 and 0.4 mM Cr6+ solutions by this methanogen. However, much lower reduction extents of 43.6%, 13.0%, and 3.7% were observed at higher Cr6+ concentrations of 1, 3 and 5 mM, respectively. These lower extents of bioreduction suggest a toxic effect of aqueous Cr6+ to cells at this concentration range. At these higher Cr6+ concentrations, methanogenesis was inhibited and cell growth was impaired as evidenced by decreased total cellular protein production and live/dead cell ratio. Likewise, Cr6+ bioreduction rates decreased with increased initial concentrations of Cr6+ from 13.3 to 1.9 μM h-1. X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) spectroscopy revealed a progressive reduction of soluble Cr6+ to insoluble Cr3+ precipitates, which was confirmed as amorphous chromium hydroxide by selected area electron diffraction pattern. However, a small fraction of reduced Cr occurred as aqueous Cr3+. Scanning and transmission electron microscope observations of M. thermautotrophicus cells after Cr6+ exposure suggest both extra- and intracellular chromium reduction mechanisms. Results of this study demonstrate the ability of M. thermautotrophicus cells to reduce toxic Cr6+ to less toxic Cr3+ and its potential application in metal bioremediation, especially at high temperature subsurface radioactive waste disposal sites, where the temperature may reach ∼70 °C.
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 11/2014; in press. DOI:10.1016/j.gca.2014.10.012 · 4.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We are becoming increasingly aware of the role played by archaea in the biogeochemical cycling of the elements. Metabolism of metals is linked to fundamental metabolic functions, including nitrogen fixation, energy production, and cellular processes based on oxidoreductions. Comparative genomic analyses have shown that genes for metabolism, resistance, and detoxification of metals are widespread throughout the archaeal domain. Archaea share with other organisms strategies allowing them to utilize essential metals and maintain metal ions within a physiological range, although comparative proteomics show, in a few cases, preferences for specific genetic traits related to metals. A more in-depth understanding of the physiology of acidophilic archaea might lead to the development of new strategies for the bioremediation of metal-polluted sites and other applications, such as biomining.
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