Journal of Industrial Microbiology

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 329–336

Transformation of selenate and selenite to elemental selenium byDesulfovibrio desulfuricans


  • Francisco A. Tomei
    • Army Environmental Policy InstituteGeorgia Institute of Technology
  • Larry L. Barton
    • Laboratory of Microbiol Chemistry, Department of BiologyUniversity of New Mexico
  • Cheryl L. Lemanski
    • Life Science DivisionLos Alamos National Laboratory
  • Thomas G. Zocco
    • Physical Metallurgical Group, Material Sciences DivisionLos Alamos National Laboratory
  • Nancy H. Fink
    • Life Science DivisionLos Alamos National Laboratory
  • Laurel O. Sillerud
    • Life Science DivisionLos Alamos National Laboratory

DOI: 10.1007/BF01569947

Cite this article as:
Tomei, F.A., Barton, L.L., Lemanski, C.L. et al. Journal of Industrial Microbiology (1995) 14: 329. doi:10.1007/BF01569947


Desulfovibrio desulfuricans (DSM 1924) can be adapted to grow in the presence of 10 mM selenate or 0.1 mM selenite. This growth occurred in media containing formate as the electron donor and either fumarate or sulfate as the electron acceptor. As determined by electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray analysis, selenate and selenite were reduced to elemental selenium which accumulated inside the cells. Selenium granules resulting from selenite metabolism were cytoplasmic while granules of selenium resulting from selenate reduction appeared to be in the periplasmic region. The accumulation of red elemental selenium in the media following stationary phase resulted from cell lysis with the liberation of selenium granules. Growth did not occur with either selenate or selenite as the electron acceptor and13C nuclear magnetic resonance indicated that neither selenium oxyanion interfered with fumarate respiration. At 1 μM selenate and 100 μM selenite, reduction byD. desulfuricans was 95% and 97%, respectively. The high level of total selenate and selenite reduced indicated the suitability ofD. desulfuricans for selenium detoxification.

Key words

Selenium Desulfovibrio Sulfate-reducing bacteria

Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology 1995