Orenia metallireducens sp nov Strain Z6, a Novel Metal- Reducing Member of the Phylum Firmicutes from the Deep Subsurface

Yiran Dong, Robert A. Sanford, Maxim I. Boyanov, Kenneth M. Kemner, Theodore M. Flynn, Edward J. O'Loughlin, Yun juan Chang, Randall A. Locke, Joseph R. Weber, Sheila M. Egan, Roderick I. Mackie, Isaac Cann, Bruce W. Fouke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A novel halophilic and metal-reducing bacterium, Orenia metallireducens strain Z6, was isolated from briny groundwater extracted from a 2.02 km-deep borehole in the Illinois Basin, IL. This organism shared 96% 16S rRNA gene similarity with Orenia marismortui but demonstrated physiological properties previously unknown for this genus. In addition to exhibiting a fermentative metabolism typical of the genus Orenia, strain Z6 reduces various metal oxides [Fe(III), Mn(IV), Co(III), and Cr(VI)], using H-2 as the electron donor. Strain Z6 actively reduced ferrihydrite over broad ranges of pH (6 to 9.6), salinity (0.4 to 3.5M NaCl), and temperature (20 to 60 degrees C). At pH 6.5, strain Z6 also reduced more crystalline iron oxides, such as lepidocrocite (gamma-FeOOH), goethite (alpha-FeOOH), and hematite (alpha-Fe2O3). Analysis of X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) following Fe(III) reduction by strain Z6 revealed spectra from ferrous secondary mineral phases consistent with the precipitation of vivianite [Fe-3(PO4)(2)] and siderite (FeCO3). The draft genome assembled for strain Z6 is 3.47 Mb in size and contains 3,269 protein-coding genes. Unlike the well-understood iron-reducing Shewanella and Geobacter species, this organism lacks the c-type cytochromes for typical Fe(III) reduction. Strain Z6 represents the first bacterial species in the genus Orenia (order Halanaerobiales) reported to reduce ferric iron minerals and other metal oxides. This microbe expands both the phylogenetic and physiological scopes of iron-reducing microorganisms known to inhabit the deep subsurface and suggests new mechanisms for microbial iron reduction. These distinctions from other Orenia spp. support the designation of strain Z6 as a new species, Orenia metallireducens sp. nov. IMPORTANCE A novel iron-reducing species, Orenia metallireducens sp. nov., strain Z6, was isolated from groundwater collected from a geological formation located 2.02 km below land surface in the Illinois Basin, USA. Phylogenetic, physiologic, and genomic analyses of strain Z6 found it to have unique properties for iron reducers, including (i) active microbial iron-reducing capacity under broad ranges of temperatures (20 to 60 degrees C), pHs (6 to 9.6), and salinities (0.4 to 3.5MNaCl), (ii) lack of c-type cytochromes typically affiliated with iron reduction in Geobacter and Shewanella species, and (iii) being the only member of the Halanaerobiales capable of reducing crystalline goethite and hematite. This study expands the scope of phylogenetic affiliations, metabolic capacities, and catalytic mechanisms for iron-reducing microbes.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6440-6453
Number of pages14
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number21
StatePublished - 2016


  • ISGS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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