Anoxic bottom water from Mono Lake, California, can biologically reduce added arsenate without any addition of electron donors. Of the possible in situ inorganic electron donors present, only sulfide was sufficiently abundant to drive this reaction. We tested the ability of sulfide to serve as an electron donor for arsenate reduction in experiments with lake water. Reduction of arsenate to arsenite occurred simultaneously with the removal of sulfide. No loss of sulfide occurred in controls without arsenate or in sterilized samples containing both arsenate and sulfide. The rate of arsenate reduction in lake water was dependent on the amount of available arsenate. We enriched for a bacterium that could achieve growth with sulfide and arsenate in a defined, mineral medium and purified it by serial dilution. The isolate, strain MLMS-1, is a gram-negative, motile curved rod that grows by oxidizing sulfide to sulfate while reducing arsenate to arsenite. Chemoautotrophy was confirmed by the incorporation of H14CO3- into dark-incubated cells, but preliminary gene probing tests with primers for ribulose-1,5-biphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase did not yield PCR-amplified products. Alignment of 16S rRNA sequences indicated that strain MLMS-1 was in the ??-Proteobacteria, located near sulfate reducers like Desulfobulbus sp. (88 to 90% similarity) but more closely related (97%) to unidentified sequences amplified previously from Mono Lake. However, strain MLMS-1 does not grow with sulfate as its electron acceptor.
Additional publication details
Dissimilatory arsenate reduction with sulfide as electron donor: Experiments with Mono Lake water and isolation of strain MLMS-1, a chemoautotrophic arsenate respirer