A selenite-respiring bacterium, Bacillus selenitireducens, produced significant levels of Se(-II) (as aqueous HSe-) when supplied with Se(O). B. selenitireducens was also able to reduce selenite [Se(IV)] through Se(O) to Se(-II). Reduction of Se(O) by B.selenitireducens was more rapid in cells grown on colloidal sulfur [S(O)] or Se(IV) as their electron acceptor than for cell lines grown on fumarate. In contrast, three cultures of selenate-respiring bacteria, Sulfurospirillum barnesii, B. arsenicoselenatis, and Selenihalanaerobacter shriftii either were unable to reduce Se(O) to Se(-II) or had only a very limited capacity to achieve this reduction. Biological reduction of Se(O) to Se(-II) was observed during incubation of estuarine sediment slurries, while no such activity was noted in formalin-killed controls. The majority of the Se(-II) produced was found in the sediments as a solid precipitate of FeSe, rather than in solution as HSe-. These results demonstrate that certain anaerobic bacteria have the capacity to reduce Se(O) to Se(-II), providing a possible biological explanation for the occurrence of the selenide species in some sedimentary rocks.
Additional Publication Details
Reduction of elemental selenium to selenide: Experiments with anoxic sediments and bacteria that respire Se-oxyanions