The potential for sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) to enzymatically reduce Fe(III) and U(VI) was investigated. Five species of Desulfovibrio as well as Desulfobacterium autotrophicum and Desulfobulbus propionicus reduced Fe(III) chelated with nitrilotriacetic acid as well as insoluble Fe(III) oxide. Fe(III) oxide reduction resulted in the accumulation of magnetite and siderite. Desulfobacter postgatei reduced the chelated Fe(III) but not Fe(III) oxide. Desulfobacter curvatus, Desulfomonile tiedjei, and Desulfotomaculum acetoxidans did not reduce Fe(III). Only Desulfovibrio species reduced U(VI). U(VI) reduction resulted in the precipitation of uraninite. None of the SRB that reduced Fe(III) or U(VI) appeared to conserve enough energy to support growth from this reaction. However, Desulfovibrio desulfuricans metabolized H2 down to lower concentrations with Fe(III) or U(VI) as the electron acceptor than with sulfate, suggesting that these metals may be preferred electron acceptors at the low H2 concentrations present in most marine sediments. Molybdate did not inhibit Fe(III) reduction by D. desulfuricans. This indicates that the inability of molybdate to inhibit Fe(III) reduction in marine sediments does not rule out the possibility that SRB are important catalysts for Fe(III) reduction. The results demonstrate that although SRB were previously considered to reduce Fe(III) and U(VI) indirectly through the production of sulfide, they may also directly reduce Fe(III) and U(VI) through enzymatic mechanisms. These findings, as well as our recent discovery that the So-reducing microorganism Desulfuromonas acetoxidans can reduce Fe(III), demonstrate that there are close links between the microbial sulfur, iron, and uranium cycles in anaerobic marine sediments. ?? 1993.
Additional publication details
Enzymatic iron and uranium reduction by sulfate-reducing bacteria