A Description of an Acidophilic, Iron Reducer, Geobacter sp. FeAm09 Isolated from Tropical Soils

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Olivia Healy1, Jesse Souchek1, Abigail Heithoff1, Brandon LaMere1, Donald Pan1, Gregory Hollis1, Wendy H Yang2, Whendee L Silver3 and Karrie A Weber1, (1)University of Nebraska Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, United States, (2)University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Urbana, IL, United States, (3)University of California Berkeley, Dept of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management, Berkeley, CA, United States
Iron (Fe) is the fourth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and plays a significant role controlling the geochemistry in soils, sediments, and aquatic systems. As part of a study to understand microbially-catalysed iron biogeochemical cycling in tropical soils, an iron reducing isolate, strain FeAm09, was obtained. Strain FeAm09 was isolated from acidic, Fe-rich soils collected from a tropical forest (Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico). Strain FeAm09 is a rod-shaped, motile, Gram-negative bacterium. Taxonomic analysis of the near complete 16S rRNA gene sequence revealed that strain FeAm09 is 94.7% similar to Geobacter lovleyi, placing it in the genus Geobacter within the Family Geobacteraceae in the Deltaproteobacteria. Characterization of the optimal growth conditions revealed that strain FeAm09 is a moderate acidophile with an optimal growth pH of 5.0. The optimal growth temperature was 37°C. Growth of FeAm09 was coupled to the reduction of soluble Fe(III), Fe(III)-NTA, with H2, fumarate, ethanol, and various organic acids and sugars serving as the electron donor. Insoluble Fe(III), in the form of synthetic ferrihydrite, was reduced by strain FeAm09 using acetate or H2 as the electron donor. The use of H2 as an electron donor in the presence of CO2 and absence of organic carbon and assimilation of 14C-labelled CO2 into biomass indicate that strain FeAm09 is an autotrophic Fe(III)-reducing bacterium. Together, these data describe the first acidophilic, autotrophic Geobacter species. Iron reducing bacteria were previously shown to be as abundant in tropical soils as in saturated sediments (lake-bottoms) and saturated soils (wetlands) where Fe(III) reduction is more commonly recognized as a dominant mode of microbial respiration. Furthermore, Fe(III) reduction was identified as a primary driver of carbon mineralization in these tropical soils (Dubinsky et al. 2010). In addition to mineralizing organic carbon, Geobacter sp. FeAm09 is likely to also play an indirect role in carbon cycling by consuming H2 promoting microbial carbon fermentation in iron-rich tropical soils.