Microbial Ecology

, Volume 64, Issue 1, pp 171–186 | Cite as

Dynamic Microbial Community Associated with Iron–Arsenic Co-Precipitation Products from a Groundwater Storage System in Bangladesh

  • Roberta GorraEmail author
  • Gordon Webster
  • Maria Martin
  • Luisella Celi
  • Francesca Mapelli
  • Andrew J. Weightman
Environmental Microbiology


The prokaryotic community in Fe–As co-precipitation product from a groundwater storage tank in Bangladesh was investigated over a 5-year period to assess the diversity of the community and to infer biogeochemical mechanisms that may contribute to the formation and stabilisation of co-precipitation products and to Fe and As redox cycling. Partial 16S rRNA gene sequences from Bacteria and Archaea, functional markers (mcrA and dsrB) and iron-oxidising Gallionella-related 16S rRNA gene sequences were determined using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). Additionally, a bacterial 16S rRNA gene library was also constructed from one representative sample. Biogeochemical characterization demonstrated that co-precipitation products consist of a mixture of inorganic minerals, mainly hydrous ferric oxides, intimately associated with organic matter of microbial origin that contribute to the chemical and physical stabilisation of a poorly ordered structure. DGGE analysis and polymerase chain reaction-cloning revealed that the diverse bacterial community structure in the co-precipitation product progressively stabilised with time resulting in a prevalence of methylotrophic Betaproteobacteria, while the archaeal community was less diverse and was dominated by members of the Euryarchaeota. Results show that Fe–As co-precipitation products provide a habitat characterised by anoxic/oxic niches that supports a phylogenetically and metabolically diverse group of prokaryotes involved in metal, sulphur and carbon cycling, supported by the presence of Gallionella-like iron-oxidizers, methanogens, methylotrophs, and sulphate reducers. However, no phylotypes known to be directly involved in As(V) respiration or As(III) oxidation were found.


Total Dissolve Nitrogen Prokaryotic Community Candidate Division mcrA Gene dsrB Gene 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Dr. Emanuele Costa and Dr Linda Pastero. (Dipartimento di Scienze Mineralogiche e Petrologiche, Universita degli Studi di Torino) for their support in Scanning Electron Microscopy and HG-ICP-AES analysis, respectively. This work was supported by the Italian Research Program of National Interest (PRIN 2008) for the financial support of the research. Rishilpi Development Project Bangladesh and Ms. R. Ferdousi are gratefully acknowledged for the logistic support.

Supplementary material

248_2012_14_Fig7_ESM.jpg (47 kb)
Supplementary Figure 1

PCR-DGGE (A) and cluster analysis (B) of bacterial 16S rRNA gene profiles of Fe–As co-precipitation products from a water storage tank in Bangladesh. Lanes represent different sampling years from 2005 to 2009; lanes marked M DGGE marker [71] (JPEG 47 kb)

248_2012_14_MOESM1_ESM.tif (282 kb)
High-resolution image (TIFF 281 kb)
248_2012_14_Fig8_ESM.jpg (44 kb)
Supplementary Figure 2

PCR-DGGE (A) and cluster analysis (B) of archaeal 16S rRNA gene profiles of Fe–As co-precipitation products from a water storage tank in Bangladesh. Lanes represent different sampling years from 2005 to 2009; lanes marked M DGGE marker [71] (JPEG 43 kb)

248_2012_14_MOESM2_ESM.tif (238 kb)
High-resolution image (TIFF 238 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberta Gorra
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Gordon Webster
    • 2
    • 3
  • Maria Martin
    • 1
  • Luisella Celi
    • 1
  • Francesca Mapelli
    • 4
  • Andrew J. Weightman
    • 2
  1. 1.DIVAPRAUniversity of TurinGrugliascoItaly
  2. 2.Cardiff School of BiosciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  3. 3.School of Earth and Ocean SciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  4. 4.DISTAMUniversity of MilanMilanoItaly

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