Evidence for microbial iron reduction in a landfill leachate-polluted aquifer (Vejen, Denmark).

Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Hans-Jørgen Albrechtsen, T H Christensen


Aquifer sediment samples obtained from the anaerobic part of a landfill leachate plume in Vejen, Denmark, were suspended in groundwater or in an artificial medium and incubated. The strictly anaerobic suspensions were tested for reduction of ferric iron [Fe(III)] oxides, which was measured as an increase in the concentration of dissolved Fe(II). Iron reduction did not occur when the medium was inoculated with inactive sediment and when the organisms in the inoculated medium were killed by formaldehyde, by chloroform, or by pasteurization, whereas the level of iron reduction was significant when living bacteria were present. Mixed cultures were obtained from the sediment samples, and differences in apparent iron reduction rates among the different cultures were maintained during several transfers. In addition, iron reduction was observed in unamended incubation mixtures containing whole sediment and groundwater. Synthetic amorphous Fe(III) oxides, as well as naturally occurring sediment-bound Fe(III) oxides, could be reduced by the cultures. Together, our results provide evidence that iron-reducing bacteria are present and microbial iron reduction occurs in the polluted aquifer sediments which we studied.


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