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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1991 Jan;57(1):207-11.

Ferric iron reduction by acidophilic heterotrophic bacteria.

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  • 1School of Biological Sciences, University College of North Wales, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, United Kingdom.


Fifty mesophilic and five moderately thermophilic strains of acidophilic heterotrophic bacteria were tested for the ability to reduce ferric iron in liquid and solid media under aerobic conditions; about 40% of the mesophiles (but none of the moderate thermophiles) displayed at least some capacity to reduce iron. Both rates and extents of ferric iron reduction were highly strain dependent. No acidophilic heterotroph reduced nitrate or sulfate, and (limited) reduction of manganese(IV) was noted in only one strain (Acidiphilium facilis), an acidophile which did not reduce iron. Insoluble forms of ferric iron, both amorphous and crystalline, were reduced, as well as soluble iron. There was evidence that, in at least some acidophilic heterotrophs, iron reduction was enzymically mediated and that ferric iron could act as a terminal electron acceptor. In anaerobically incubated cultures, bacterial biomass increased with increasing concentrations of ferric but not ferrous iron. Mixed cultures of Thiobacillus ferrooxidans or Leptospirillum ferrooxidans and an acidophilic heterotroph (SJH) produced sequences of iron cycling in ferrous iron-glucose media.

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