The importance of microbial nitrate-dependent Fe(II) oxidation to iron biogeochemistry is well recognized. Past research has focused on oxidation of aqueous Fe2+ and structural Fe(II) in oxides, carbonates, and phosphate, but the importance of structural Fe(II) in phyllosilicates in this reaction is only recently studied. However, the effect of clay mineralogy on the rate and the mechanism of the reaction, and subsequent mineralogical end products are still poorly known. The objective of this research was to study the coupled process of microbial oxidation of Fe(II) in clay mineral nontronite (NAu-2), and nitrate reduction by Pseudogulbenkiania species strain 2002, and to determine mineralogical changes associated with this process. Bio-oxidation experiments were conducted using Fe(II) in microbially reduced nontronite as electron donor and nitrate as electron acceptor in bicarbonate-buffered medium under both growth and nongrowth conditions to investigate cell growth on this process. The extents of Fe(II) oxidation and nitrate reduction were measured by wet chemical methods. X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM and TEM), and 57Fe-Mössbauer spectroscopy were used to observe mineralogical changes associated with Fe(III) reduction and Fe(II) oxidation in NAu-2. The bio-oxidation extent under growth and nongrowth conditions reached 67% and 57%, respectively. Over the same time period, nitrate was completely reduced under both conditions to nitrogen gas (N2), via an intermediate product nitrite. Abiotic oxidation by nitrite partly accelerated Fe(II) oxidation rate under the growth condition. The oxidized Fe(III) largely remained in the nontronite structure, but secondary minerals such as vivianite, ferrihydrite, and magnetite formed depending on specific experimental conditions. The results of this study highlight the importance of iron-bearing clay minerals in the global nitrogen cycle with potential applications in nitrate removal in natural environments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology