Biomineralization of lepidocrocite and goethite by nitrate-reducing Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria: Effect of pH, bicarbonate, phosphate, and humic acids
Fe(III) solid phases are the products of Fe(II) oxidation by Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria, but the Fe(III) phases reported to form within growth experiments are, at times, poorly crystalline and therefore difficult to identify, possibly due to the presence of ligands (e.g., phosphate, carbonate) that complex iron and disrupt iron (hydr)oxide precipitation. The scope of this study was to investigate the influences of geochemical solution conditions (pH, carbonate, phosphate, humic acids) on the Fe(II) oxidation rate and Fe(III) mineralogy. Fe(III) mineral characterization was performed using 57Fe-Mössbauer spectroscopy and μ-X-ray diffraction after oxidation of dissolved Fe(II) within Mops-buffered cell suspensions of Acidovorax sp. BoFeN1, a nitrate-reducing, Fe(II)-oxidizing bacterium. Lepidocrocite (γ-FeOOH) (90%), which also forms after chemical oxidation of Fe(II) by dissolved O 2, and goethite (α-FeOOH) (10%) were produced at pH 7.0 in the absence of any strongly complexing ligands. Higher solution pH, increasing concentrations of carbonate species, and increasing concentrations of humic acids promoted goethite formation and caused little or no changes in Fe(II) oxidation rates. Phosphate species resulted in Fe(III) solids unidentifiable to our methods and significantly slowed Fe(II) oxidation rates. Our results suggest that Fe(III) mineralogy formed by bacterial Fe(II) oxidation is strongly influenced by solution chemistry, and the geochemical conditions studied here suggest lepidocrocite and goethite may coexist in aquatic environments where nitrate-reducing, Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria are active.