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Characterization of Microbial Arsenate Reduction in the Anoxic Bottom Waters of Mono Lake, California

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Dissimilatory reduction of arsenate (DAsR) occurs in the arsenic-rich, anoxic water column of Mono Lake, California, yet the microorganisms responsible for this observed in situ activity have not been identified. To gain insight as to which microorganisms mediate this phenomenon, as well as to some of the biogeochemical constraints on this activity, we conducted incubations of arsenate-enriched bottom water coupled with inhibition/amendment studies and Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (DGGE) characterization techniques. DAsR was totally inhibited by filter-sterilization and by nitrate, partially inhibited (~50%) by selenate, but only slightly (~25%) inhibited by oxyanions that block sulfate-reduction (molybdate and tungstate). The apparent inhibition by nitrate, however, was not due to action as a preferred electron acceptor to arsenate. Rather, nitrate addition caused a rapid, microbial re-oxidation of arsenite to arsenate, which gave the overall appearance of no arsenate loss. A similar microbial oxidation of As(III) was also found with Fe(III), a fact that has implications for the recycling of As(V) in Mono Lake's anoxic bottom waters. DAsR could be slightly (10%) stimulated by substrate amendments of lactate, succinate, malate, or glucose, but not by acetate, suggesting that the DAsR microflora is not electron donor limited. DGGE analysis of amplified 16S rDNA gene fragments from incubated arsenate-enriched bottom waters revealed the presence of two bands that were not present in controls without added arsenate. The resolved sequences of these excised bands indicated the presence of members of the epsilon (Sulfurospirillum) and delta (Desulfovibrio) subgroups of the Proteobacteria, both of which have representative species that are capable of anaerobic growth using arsenate as their electron acceptor.
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Keywords: ANAEROBES; ARSENATE RESPIRATION; SODA LAKES

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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