Impact of organic carbon electron donors on microbial community development under iron- and sulfate-reducing Conditions

Although iron- and sulfate-reducing bacteria in subsurface environments have crucial roles in biogeochemical cycling of C, Fe, and S, how specific electron donors impact the compositional structure and activity of native iron- and/or sulfate-reducing communities is largely unknown. To understand this better, we created bicarbonate-buffered batch systems in duplicate with three different electron donors (acetate, lactate, or glucose) paired with ferrihydrite and sulfate as the electron acceptors and inoculated them with subsurface sediment as the microbial inoculum. Sulfate and ferrihydrite reduction occurred simultaneously and were faster with lactate than with acetate. 16S rRNA-based sequence analysis of the communities over time revealed that Desulfotomaculum was the major driver for sulfate reduction coupled with propionate oxidation in lactate-amended incubations.

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