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Cable bacteria activity modulates arsenic release from sediments in a seasonally hypoxic marine basin
van de Velde, S.J.; Burdorf, L.D.W.; Hidalgo-Martinez, S.; Leermakers, M.; Meysman, F.J.R. (2022). Cable bacteria activity modulates arsenic release from sediments in a seasonally hypoxic marine basin. Front. Microbiol. 13: 907976.
In: Frontiers in Microbiology. Frontiers Media: Lausanne. ISSN 1664-302X; e-ISSN 1664-302X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    electrogenic sulfur oxidation; marine sediments; long-distance electron transport; cable bacteria; arsenic; euxinia

Authors  Top 
  • van de Velde, S.J., more
  • Burdorf, L.D.W., more
  • Hidalgo-Martinez, S., more
  • Leermakers, M., more
  • Meysman, F.J.R., more

    Eutrophication and global change are increasing the occurrence of seasonal hypoxia (bottom-water oxygen concentration <63 μM) in coastal systems worldwide. In extreme cases, the bottom water can become completely anoxic, allowing sulfide to escape from the sediments and leading to the development of bottom-water euxinia. In seasonally hypoxic coastal basins, electrogenic sulfur oxidation by long, filamentous cable bacteria has been shown to stimulate the formation of an iron oxide layer near the sediment-water interface, while the bottom waters are oxygenated. Upon the development of bottom-water anoxia, this iron oxide “firewall” prevents the sedimentary release of sulfide. Iron oxides also act as an adsorption trap for elements such as arsenic. Arsenic is a toxic trace metal, and its release from sediments can have a negative impact on marine ecosystems. Yet, it is currently unknown how electrogenic sulfur oxidation impacts arsenic cycling in seasonally hypoxic basins. In this study, we presented results from a seasonal field study of an uncontaminated marine lake, complemented with a long-term sediment core incubation experiment, which reveals that cable bacteria have a strong impact on the arsenic cycle in a seasonally hypoxic system. Electrogenic sulfur oxidation significantly modulates the arsenic fluxes over a seasonal time scale by enriching arsenic in the iron oxide layer near the sediment-water interface in the oxic period and pulse-releasing arsenic during the anoxic period. Fluxes as large as 20 μmol m−2 day−1 were measured, which are comparable to As fluxes reported from highly contaminated sediments. Since cable bacteria are recognized as active components of the microbial community in seasonally hypoxic systems worldwide, this seasonal amplification of arsenic fluxes is likely a widespread phenomenon.

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