Papers in the Biological Sciences


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APPLIED AND ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY, Vol. 72, No. 1 (Jan. 2006), p. 686–694; doi:10.1128/AEM.72.1.686–694.2006


Copyright © 2006, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


Microbial nitrate-dependent Fe(II) oxidation is known to contribute to iron biogeochemical cycling; however, the microorganisms responsible are virtually unknown. In an effort to elucidate this microbial metabolic process in the context of an environmental system, a 14-cm sediment core was collected from a freshwater lake and geochemically characterized concurrently with the enumeration of the nitrate-dependent Fe(II)-oxidizing microbial community and subsequent isolation of a nitrate-dependent Fe(II)-oxidizing microorganism. Throughout the sediment core, ambient concentrations of Fe(II) and nitrate were observed to coexist. Concomitant most probable number enumeration revealed the presence of an abundant nitrate-dependent Fe(II)- oxidizing microbial community (2.4 × 103 to 1.5 × 104 cells g–1 wet sediment) from which a novel anaerobic, lithoautotrophic, Fe(II)-oxidizing bacterium, strain 2002, was isolated. Analysis of the complete 16S rRNA gene sequence revealed that strain 2002 was a member of the beta subclass of the proteobacteria with 94.8% similarity to Chromobacterium violaceum, a bacterium not previously recognized for the ability to oxidize nitrate-dependent Fe(II). Under nongrowth conditions, both strain 2002 and C. violaceum incompletely reduced nitrate to nitrite with Fe(II) as the electron donor, while under growth conditions nitrate was reduced to gaseous end products (N2 and N2O). Lithoautotrophic metabolism under nitrate-dependent Fe(II)-oxidizing conditions was verified by the requirement of CO2 for growth as well as the assimilation of 14C-labeled CO2 into biomass. The isolation of strain 2002 represents the first example of an anaerobic, mesophilic, neutrophilic Fe(II)-oxidizing lithoautotroph isolated from freshwater samples. Our studies further demonstrate the abundance of nitrate-dependent Fe(II) oxidizers in freshwater lake sediments and provide further evidence for the potential of microbially mediated Fe(II) oxidation in anoxic environments.

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