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Jan 07, 2014
Environmental Science & Technology
Microbiological reduction of millimolar concentrations of Sb(V) to Sb(III) was observed in anoxic sediments from two freshwater settings: (1) a Sb- and As-contaminated mine site (Stibnite Mine) in central Idaho and 2) an uncontaminated suburban lake (Searsville Lake) in the San Francisco Bay Area. Rates of Sb(V) reduction in anoxic sediment microcosms and enrichment cultures were enhanced by amendment with lactate or acetate as electron donors but not by H2, and no reduction occurred in sterilized controls. Addition of 2-(14)C-acetate to Stibnite Mine microcosms resulted in the production of (14)CO2 coupled to Sb(V) reduction, suggesting that this process proceeds by a dissimilatory respiratory pathway in those sediments. Antimony(V) reduction in Searsville Lake sediments was not coupled to acetate mineralization and may be associated with Sb-resistance. The microcosms and enrichment cultures also reduced sulfate, and the precipitation of insoluble Sb(III)-sulfide complexes was a major sink for reduced Sb. The reduction of Sb(V) by Stibnite Mine sediments was inhibited by As(V), suggesting that As(V) is a preferred electron acceptor for the indigenous community. These findings indicate a novel pathway for anaerobic microbiological respiration and suggest that communities capable of reducing high concentrations of Sb(V) commonly occur naturally in the environment.

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