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Environmental Science and Technology
Vol. 45, No: 7, 2011, Pages: 2648 - 54

Microbes enhance mobility of arsenic in pleistocene aquifer sand from Bangladesh

Dhar RK, Zheng Y, Saltikov CW, Radloff KA, Mailloux BJ, Ahmed KM, van Geen A

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Queens College, City University of New York 65-30, Kissena Blvd, Flushing, New York 11367, United States.


Dissimilatory metal-reducing bacteria can mobilize As, but few studies have studied such processes in deeper orange-colored Pleistocene sands containing 1-2 mg kg(-1) As that are associated with low-As groundwater in Bangladesh. To address this gap, anaerobic incubations were conducted in replicate over 90 days using natural orange sands initially containing 0.14 mg kg(-1) of 1 M phosphate-extractable As (24 h), >99% as As(V), and 0.8 g kg(-1) of 1.2 M HCl-leachable Fe (1 h at 80 °C), 95% as Fe(III). The sediment was resuspended in artificial groundwater, with or without lactate as a labile carbon source, and inoculated with metal-reducing Shewanella sp. ANA-3. Within 23 days, dissolved As concentrations increased to 17 μg L(-1) with lactate, 97% as As(III), and 2 μg L(-1) without lactate. Phosphate-extractable As concentrations increased 4-fold to 0.6 mg kg(-1) in the same incubations, even without the addition of lactate. Dissolved As levels in controls without Shewanella, both with and without lactate, instead remained <1 μg L(-1). These observations indicate that metal-reducers such as Shewanella can trigger As release to groundwater by converting sedimentary As to a more mobilizable form without the addition of high levels of labile carbon. Such interactions need to be better understood to determine the vulnerability of low-As aquifers from which drinking water is increasingly drawn in Bangladesh.

Keywords:metal-reducing bacteria,orange-colored Pleistocene,levels in controls without Shewanella.



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