Responses of the anaerobic bacterial community to addition of organic C in chromium(VI)- and iron(III)-amended microcosms

Peter S. Kourtev, Cindy H. Nakatsu, Allan Konopka

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Chromium (VI) is toxic to microorganisms and can inhibit the biodegradation of organic pollutants in contaminated soils. We used microcosms amended with either glucose or protein (to drive bacterial community change) and Fe(III) (to stimulate iron-reducing bacteria) to study the effect of various concentrations of Cr(VI) on anaerobic bacterial communities. Microcosms were destructively sampled based on microbial activity (measured as evolution of CO2) and analyzed for the following: (i) dominant bacterial community by PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of the 16S rRNA gene; (ii) culturable Cr-resistant bacteria; and (iii) enrichment of iron-reducing bacteria of the Geobacteraceae family by real-time PCR. The addition of organic C stimulated the activities of anaerobic communities. Cr(VI) amendment resulted in lower rates of CO2 production in glucose microcosms and a slow mineralization phase in protein-amended microcosms. Glucose and protein amendments selected for different bacterial communities. This selection was modified by the addition of Cr(VI), since some DGGE bands were intensified and new bands appeared in Cr(VI)-amended microcosms. A second dose of Cr(VI), added after the onset of activity, had a strong inhibitory effect when higher levels of Cr were added, indicating that the developing Cr-resistant communities had a relatively low tolerance threshold. Most of the isolated Cr-resistant bacteria were closely related to previously studied Cr-resistant anaerobes, such as Pantoea, Pseudomonas, and Enterobacter species. Geobacteraceae were not enriched during the incubation. The studied Cr(VI)-contaminated soil contained a viable anaerobic bacterial community; however, Cr(VI) altered its composition, which could affect the soil biodegradation potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628-637
Number of pages10
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


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