This study investigated the possibility of links between the biological immobilization of uranium (U) and ammonium oxidation under iron (Fe) reducing conditions. The recently-identified Acidimicrobiaceae bacterium A6 (ATCC, PTA-122488) derives energy from ammonium oxidation coupled with Fe reduction. This bacterium has been found in various soil and wetland environments, including U-contaminated wetland sediments. Incubations of Acidimicrobiaceae bacteria A6 with nontronite, an Fe(III)-rich clay, and approximately 10 µM U indicate that these bacteria can use U(VI) in addition to Fe(III) as an electron acceptor in the presence of ammonium. Measurements of Fe(II) production and ammonium oxidation support this interpretation. Concentrations of approximately 100 µM U were found to entirely inhibit Acidimicrobiaceae bacteria A6 activity. These results suggest that natural sites of active ammonium oxidation under Fe reducing conditions by Acidimicrobiaceae bacteria A6 could be hotspots of U immobilization by bioreduction. This is the first report of biological U reduction that is not coupled to carbon oxidation.
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This research was supported through contract DE-SC0006847 by the Subsurface Biogeochemical Research Program of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research.
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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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Gilson, E.R., Huang, S. & Jaffé, P.R. Biological reduction of uranium coupled with oxidation of ammonium by Acidimicrobiaceae bacterium A6 under iron reducing conditions. Biodegradation 26, 475–482 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10532-015-9749-y