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Anaerobic arsenite oxidation by novel denitrifying isolates

Authors

  • E. Danielle Rhine,

    1. Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment, and
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  • Craig D. Phelps,

    1. Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment, and
    2. Department of Environmental Sciences, Cook College, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.
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  • L. Y. Young

    Corresponding author
    1. Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment, and
    2. Department of Environmental Sciences, Cook College, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.
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*E-mail lyoung@aesop.rutgers.edu; Tel. (+1) 732 932 8165; Fax (+1) 732 932 0312.

Summary

Autotrophic microorganisms have been isolated that are able to derive energy from the oxidation of arsenite [As(III)] to arsenate [As(V)] under aerobic conditions. Based on chemical energetics, microbial oxidation of As(III) can occur in the absence of oxygen, and may be relevant in some environments. Enrichment cultures were established from an arsenic contaminated industrial soil amended with As(III) as the electron donor, inorganic C as the carbon source and nitrate as the electron acceptor. In the active enrichment cultures, oxidation of As(III) was stoichiometrically coupled to the reduction of NO3. Two autotrophic As(III)-oxidizing strains were isolated that completely oxidized 5 mM As(III) within 7 days under denitrifying conditions. Based on 16S rRNA gene sequencing results, strain DAO1 was 99% related to Azoarcus and strain DAO10 was most closely related to a Sinorhizobium. The nitrous oxide reductase (nosZ) and the RuBisCO Type II (cbbM) genes were successfully amplified from both isolates underscoring their ability to denitrify and fix CO2 while coupled to As(III) oxidation. Although limited work has been done to examine the diversity of anaerobic autotrophic oxidizers of As(III), this process may be an important component in the biological cycling of arsenic within the environment.

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