Diverse arsenic- and iron-cycling microbial communities in arsenic-contaminated aquifers used for drinking water in Bangladesh.

Z. Hassan, M. Sultana, B.M. van Breukelen, S.I. Kahn, W.F.M. Roling

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Subsurface removal of arsenic by injection with oxygenated groundwater has been proposed as a viable technology for obtaining 'safe' drinking water in Bangladesh. While the oxidation of ferrous iron to solid ferric iron minerals, to which arsenic adsorbs, is assumed to be driven by abiotic reactions, metal-cycling microorganisms may potentially affect arsenic removal. A cultivation-independent survey covering 24 drinking water wells in several geographical regions in Bangladesh was conducted to obtain information on microbial community structure and diversity in general, and on speciic functional groups capable of the oxidation or reduction of arsenic or iron. Each functional group, targeted by either group-speciic 16S rRNA or functional gene ampliication, occurred in at least 79% of investigated samples. Putative arsenate reducers and iron-oxidizing Gallionellaceae were present at low diversity, while more variation in potentially arsenite-oxidizing microorganisms and iron-reducing Desulfuromonadales was revealed within and between samples. Relations between community composition on the one hand and hydrochemistry on the other hand were in general not evident, apart from an impact of salinity on iron-cycling microorganisms. Our data suggest widespread potential for a positive contribution of arsenite and iron oxidizers to arsenic removal upon injection with oxygenated water, but also indicate a potential risk for arsenic re-mobilization by anaerobic arsenate and iron reducers once injection is halted.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number91
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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