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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2014 May;80(10):3198-208. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00240-14. Epub 2014 Mar 14.

Arsenic(V) reduction in relation to Iron(III) transformation and molecular characterization of the structural and functional microbial community in sediments of a basin-fill aquifer in Northern Utah.

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Utah Water Research Laboratory, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA.


Basin-fill aquifers of the Southwestern United States are associated with elevated concentrations of arsenic (As) in groundwater. Many private domestic wells in the Cache Valley Basin, UT, have As concentrations in excess of the U.S. EPA drinking water limit. Thirteen sediment cores were collected from the center of the valley at the depth of the shallow groundwater and were sectioned into layers based on redoxmorphic features. Three of the layers, two from redox transition zones and one from a depletion zone, were used to establish microcosms. Microcosms were treated with groundwater (GW) or groundwater plus glucose (GW+G) to investigate the extent of As reduction in relation to iron (Fe) transformation and characterize the microbial community structure and function by sequencing 16S rRNA and arsenate dissimilatory reductase (arrA) genes. Under the carbon-limited conditions of the GW treatment, As reduction was independent of Fe reduction, despite the abundance of sequences related to Geobacter and Shewanella, genera that include a variety of dissimilatory iron-reducing bacteria. The addition of glucose, an electron donor and carbon source, caused substantial shifts toward domination of the bacterial community by Clostridium-related organisms, and As reduction was correlated with Fe reduction for the sediments from the redox transition zone. The arrA gene sequencing from microcosms at day 54 of incubation showed the presence of 14 unique phylotypes, none of which were related to any previously described arrA gene sequence, suggesting a unique community of dissimilatory arsenate-respiring bacteria in the Cache Valley Basin.

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