Analysis of arsenic concentrations in New Jersey well water from the Newark Basin showed up to 15% of the wells exceed 10 ??g L-1, with a maximum of 215 ??g L-1. In some geologic settings in the basin, this mobile arsenic could be from the weathering of pyrite (FeS2) found in black shale that contains up to 4% arsenic by weight. We hypothesized that under oxic conditions at circumneutral pH, the microbially mediated oxidation of sulfide in the pyrite lattice would lead to the release of pyrite-bound arsenic. Moreover, the oxidation of aqueous As(III) to As(V) by aerobic microorganisms could further enhance arsenic mobilization from the solid phase. Enrichment cultures under aerobic, As(III)-oxidizing conditions were established under circumneutral pH with weathered black shale from the Newark Basin as the inoculum source. Strain WAO, an autotrophic inorganic-sulfur and As(III)-oxidizer, was isolated and phylogenetically and physiologically characterized. Arsenic mobilization studies from arsenopyrite (FeAsS) mineral, conducted with strain WAO at circumneutral pH, showed microbially enhanced mobilization of arsenic and complete oxidation of released arsenic and sulfur to stoichiometric amounts of arsenate and sulfate. In addition, WAO preferentially colonized pyrite on the surface of arsenic-bearing, black shale thick sections. These findings support the hypothesis that microorganisms can directly mobilize and transform arsenic bound in mineral form at circumneutral pH and suggest that the microbial mobilization of arsenic into groundwater may be important in other arsenic-impacted aquifers. ?? 2008 American Chemical Society.
Additional publication details
Arsenic transformation and mobilization from minerals by the arsenite oxidizing strain WAO