Biogeochemistry

, Volume 64, Issue 1, pp 77–96 | Cite as

Enumeration of Fe(II)-oxidizing and Fe(III)-reducing bacteria in the root zone of wetland plants: Implications for a rhizosphere iron cycle

  • Johanna V. Weiss
  • David Emerson
  • Stephanie M. Backer
  • J. Patrick Megonigal
Article

Abstract

Iron plaque occurs on the roots of most wetland and submersed aquatic plant species and is a large pool of oxidized Fe(III) in some environments. Because plaque formation in wetlands with circumneutral pH has been largely assumed to be an abiotic process, no systematic effort has been made to describe plaque-associated microbial communities or their role in plaque deposition. We hypothesized that Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria (FeOB) and Fe(III)-reducing bacteria (FeRB) are abundant in the rhizosphere of wetland plants across a wide range of biogeochemical environments. In a survey of 13 wetland and aquatic habitats in the Mid-Atlantic region, FeOB were present in the rhizosphere of 92% of the plant specimens collected (n = 37), representing 25 plant species. In a subsequent study at six of these sites, bacterial abundances were determined in the rhizosphere and bulk soil using the most probable number technique. The soil had significantly more total bacteria than the roots on a dry mass basis (1.4 × 109 cells/g soil vs. 8.6 × 107 cells/g root; p < 0.05). The absolute abundance of aerobic, lithotrophic FeOB was higher in the soil than in the rhizosphere (3.7 × 106/g soil vs. 5.9 × 105/g root; p < 0.05), but there was no statistical difference between these habitats in terms of relative abundance (∼1% of the total cell number). In the rhizosphere, FeRB accounted for an average of 12% of all bacterial cells while in the soil they accounted for < 1% of the total bacteria. We concluded that FeOB are ubiquitous and abundant in wetland ecosystems, and that FeRB are dominant members of the rhizosphere microbial community. These observations provide a strong rationale for quantifying the contribution of FeOB to rhizosphere Fe(II) oxidation rates, and investigating the combined role of FeOB and FeRB in a rhizosphere iron cycle.

Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria Fe(III)-reducing bacteria Rhizosphere Wetland 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johanna V. Weiss
  • David Emerson
  • Stephanie M. Backer
  • J. Patrick Megonigal

There are no affiliations available

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