Washed cell suspension of Desulfovibrio desulfuricans subsp. aestuarii were capable of reducing nanomolar levels of selenate to selenide as well as sulfate to sulfide. Reduction of these species was inhibited by 1 mM selenate or tungstate. The addition of 1 mM sulfate decreased the reduction of selenate and enhanced the reduction of sulfate. Increasing concentrations of sulfate inhibited rates of selenate reduction but enhanced sulfate reduction rates. Cell suspensions kept in 1 mM selenate were incapable of reducing either selenate or sulfate when the selenate/sulfate ratio was ???0.02, indicating that irreversible inhibition occurs at high selenate concentrations. Anoxic estuarine sediments having an active flora of sulfate-respiring bacteria were capable of a small amount of selenate reduction when ambient sulfate concentrations were low (<4 mM). These results indicate that sulfate is an inhibitor of the reduction of trace qunatitites of selenate. Therefore, direct reduction of traces of selenate to selenide by sulfate-respiring bacteria in natural environments is constrained by the ambient concentration of sulfate ions. The significance of this observation with regard to the role sediments play in sequestering selenium is discussed.
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Reduction of selenate to selenide by sulfate-respiring bacteria: Experiments with cell suspensions and estuarine sediments