Microbial Fe(III) Oxide Reduction in Chocolate Pots Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Nathaniel W Fortney1, Eric E Roden1, Eric S Boyd2 and Brandon J Converse1, (1)University of Wisconsin Madison, Madison, WI, United States, (2)Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, United States
Previous work on dissimilatory iron reduction (DIR) in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) has focused on high temperature, low pH environments where soluble Fe(III) is utilized as an electron acceptor for respiration. Much less attention has been paid to DIR in lower temperature, circumneutral pH environments, where solid phase Fe(III) oxides are the dominant forms of Fe(III). This study explored the potential for DIR in the warm (ca. 40-50°C), circumneutral pH Chocolate Pots hot springs (CP) in YNP. Most probable number (MPN) enumerations and enrichment culture studies confirmed the presence of endogenous microbial communities that reduced native CP Fe(III) oxides. Enrichment cultures demonstrated sustained DIR coupled to acetate and lactate oxidation through repeated transfers over ca. 450 days. Pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA genes indicated that the dominant organisms in the enrichments were closely affiliated with the well known Fe(III) reducer Geobacter metallireducens. Additional taxa included relatives of sulfate reducing bacterial genera Desulfohalobium and Thermodesulfovibrio; however, amendment of enrichments with molybdate, an inhibitor of sulfate reduction, suggested that sulfate reduction was not a primary metabolic pathway involved in DIR in the cultures. A metagenomic analysis of enrichment cultures is underway in anticipation of identifying genes involved in DIR in the less well-characterized dominant organisms. Current studies are aimed at interrogating the in situ microbial community at CP. Core samples were collected along the flow path (Fig. 1) and subdivided into 1 cm depth intervals for geochemical and microbiological analysis. The presence of significant quantities of Fe(II) in the solids indicated that DIR is active in situ. A parallel study investigated in vitro microbial DIR in sediments collected from three of the coring sites. DNA was extracted from samples from both studies for 16S rRNA gene and metagenomic sequencing in order to obtain a detailed understanding of the vertical and longitudinal distribution of microbial taxa throughout CP. These studies will provide insight into the operation of the microbial Fe redox cycle, demonstrating how genomic properties relate to and control geochemical conditions with depth and distance in a Fe-rich, neutral pH geothermal environment.