Biochemistry and Physiology of Anaerobic Bacteria

pp 220-234

Reduction of Metals and Nonessential Elements by Anaerobes

  • Larry L. Barton
  • , Richard M. Plunkett
  • , Bruce M. Thomson

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We are at the discovery stage for determining the ability of various bacteria to reduce metals and nonessential compounds. Mechanisms for these reductions generally have not yet been established, and it is apparent that much is unknown. A number of questions pertaining to reduction are raised: Which elements and compounds are reduced at the cell surface? Why are some of the compounds not reduced at the cell surface but become reduced at the plasma membrane or in the cytoplasm? What is the nature of the nonenergetic reactions in the cytoplasm of the bacterial cell? What are the physiologic substrates for the cytochromes and which reactions occur because of substitution of chemicals due to similar structural features? Certainly, considerable flexibility and adaptability of electron flow is expected in bacteria, and many new strains are expected to be found that obtain energy from these chemical reductions. The natural gene flow over the years in the anaerobic ecosystems has produced microorganisms of conside rable physiologic diversity. These anaerobic organisms continue to provide numerous biochemical challenges in the areas of anaerobic reduction of metals, metalloids, and nonessential elements by microorganisms.