Mineralogical and morphological constraints on the reduction of Fe(III) minerals by Geobacter sulfurreducens

R. S. Cutting, V. S. Coker, J. W. Fellowes, J. R. Lloyd, D. J. Vaughan

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    The biologically-mediated reduction of synthetic samples of the Fe(III)-bearing minerals hematite, goethite, lepidocrocite, feroxhyte, ford ferrihydrite, akaganeite and schwertmannite by Geobacter sulfurreducens has been investigated using microbiological techniques in conjunction with X-ray Diffraction (XRD), Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS). This combination of approaches offers unique insights into the influence of subtle variations in the crystallinity of a given mineral on biogeochemical processes, and has highlighted the importance of (oxyhydr)oxide crystallite morphology in determining the changes occurring in a given mineral phase. Problems arising from normalising the biological Fe(III) reduction rates relative to the specific surface areas of the starting materials are also highlighted. These problems are caused primarily by particle aggregation, and compounded when using spectrophotometric assays to monitor reduction. For example, the initial rates of Fe(III) reduction observed for two synthetic feroxyhytes with different crystallinities (as shown by XRD and TEM studies) but almost identical surface areas, differ substantially. Both microbiological and high-resolution TEM studies show that hematite and goethite are susceptible to limited amounts of Fe(III) reduction, as evidenced by the accumulation of Fe(II) during incubation with G. sulfurreducens and the growth of nodular structures on crystalline goethite laths during incubation. Lepidocrocite and akaganeite readily transform into mixtures of magnetite and goethite, and XRD data indicate that the proportion of magnetite increases within the transformation products as the crystallinity of the starting material decreases. The presence of anthraquinone-2,6-disulfonate (AQDS) as an electron shuttle increases both the initial rate and longer term extent of biological Fe(III) reduction for all of the synthetic minerals examined. High-resolution XPS indicates subtle but measurable differences in the Fe(III):Fe(II) ratios at the mineral surfaces following extended incubation. For example, for a poorly crystalline schwertmannite, deconvolution of the Fe2p3/2 peak suggests that the Fe(III):Fe(II) ratio of the near-surface regions varies from 1.0 in the starting material to 0.9 following 144 h of incubation with G. sulfurreducens, and to 0.75 following the same incubation period in the presence of 10 μM AQDS. These results have important implications for the biogeochemical cycling of iron. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4004-4022
    Number of pages18
    JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
    Issue number14
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2009


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