Enrichment of members of the family Geobacteraceae associated with stimulation of dissimilatory metal reduction in uranium-contaminated aquifer sediments.

TitleEnrichment of members of the family Geobacteraceae associated with stimulation of dissimilatory metal reduction in uranium-contaminated aquifer sediments.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsHolmes DE, Finneran KT, O'Neil RA, Lovley DR
JournalAppl Environ Microbiol
Date Published2002 May
KeywordsGene Library, Geologic Sediments, Iron, Oxidation-Reduction, Proteobacteria, RNA, Ribosomal, 16S, Soil Pollutants, Uranium

Stimulating microbial reduction of soluble U(VI) to insoluble U(IV) shows promise as a strategy for immobilizing uranium in uranium-contaminated subsurface environments. In order to learn more about which microorganisms might be involved in U(VI) reduction in situ, the changes in the microbial community when U(VI) reduction was stimulated with the addition of acetate were monitored in sediments from three different uranium-contaminated sites in the floodplain of the San Juan River in Shiprock, N.Mex. In all three sediments U(VI) reduction was accompanied by concurrent Fe(III) reduction and a dramatic enrichment of microorganisms in the family Geobacteraceae, which are known U(VI)- and Fe(III)-reducing microorganisms. At the point when U(VI) reduction and Fe(III) reduction were nearing completion, Geobacteraceae accounted for ca. 40% of the 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequences recovered from the sediments with bacterial PCR primers, whereas Geobacteraceae accounted for fewer than 5% of the 16S rDNA sequences in control sediments that were not amended with acetate and in which U(VI) and Fe(III) reduction were not stimulated. Between 55 and 65% of these Geobacteraceae sequences were most similar to sequences from Desulfuromonas species, with the remainder being most closely related to Geobacter species. Quantitative analysis of Geobacteraceae sequences with most-probable-number PCR and TaqMan analyses indicated that the number of Geobacteraceae sequences increased from 2 to 4 orders of magnitude over the course of U(VI) and Fe(III) reduction in the acetate-amended sediments from the three sites. No increase in Geobacteraceae sequences was observed in control sediments. In contrast to the predominance of Geobacteraceae sequences, no sequences related to other known Fe(III)-reducing microorganisms were detected in sediments. These results compare favorably with an increasing number of studies which have demonstrated that Geobacteraceae are important components of the microbial community in a diversity of subsurface environments in which Fe(III) reduction is an important process. The combination of these results with the finding that U(VI) reduction takes place during Fe(III) reduction and prior to sulfate reduction suggests that Geobacteraceae will be responsible for much of the Fe(III) and U(VI) reduction during uranium bioremediation in these sediments.

Alternate JournalAppl. Environ. Microbiol.
PubMed ID11976101