In an attempt to better understand the microorganisms responsible for Fe(III) reduction in sedimentary environments, Fe(III)-reducing microorganisms were enriched for and isolated from freshwater aquatic sediments, a pristine deep aquifer, and a petroleum-contaminated shallow aquifer. Enrichments were initiated with acetate or toluene as the electron donor and Fe(III) as the electron acceptor. Isolations were made with acetate or benzoate. Five new strains which could obtain energy for growth by dissimilatory Fe(III) reduction were isolated. All five isolates are gram- negative strict anaerobes which grow with acetate as the electron donor and Fe(III) as the electron acceptor. Analysis of the 16S rRNA sequence of the isolated organisms demonstrated that they all belonged to the genus Geobacter in the delta subdivision of the Proteobacteria. Unlike the type strain, Geobacter metallireducens, three of the five isolates could use H2 as an electron donor fur Fe(III) reduction. The deep subsurface isolate is the first Fe(III) reducer shown to completely oxidize lactate to carbon dioxide, while one of the freshwater sediment isolates is only the second Fe(III) reducer known that can oxidize toluene. The isolation of these organisms demonstrates that Geobacter species are widely distributed in a diversity of sedimentary environments in which Fe(III) reduction is an important process.
Additional publication details
Isolation of Geobacter species from diverse sedimentary environments