STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION OF SUBSURFACE MICROBIAL COMMUNITIES AFFECTING RADIONUCLIDE TRANSPORT AND BIOIMMOBILIZATION

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The objectives of this project were to: (1) isolate and characterize novel anaerobic prokaryotes from subsurface environments exposed to high levels of mixed contaminants (U(VI), nitrate, sulfate), (2) elucidate the diversity and distribution of metabolically active metal- and nitrate-reducing prokaryotes in subsurface sediments, and (3) determine the biotic and abiotic mechanisms linking electron transport processes (nitrate, Fe(III), and sulfate reduction) to radionuclide reduction and immobilization. Mechanisms of electron transport and U(VI) transformation were examined under near in situ conditions in sediment microcosms and in field investigations at the Oak Ridge Field Research Center (ORFRC), in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the ... continued below

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Kostka, Joel E.; Kerkhof, Lee; Chin, Kuk-Jeong; Keller, Martin & Stucki, Joseph W. June 15, 2011.

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Description

The objectives of this project were to: (1) isolate and characterize novel anaerobic prokaryotes from subsurface environments exposed to high levels of mixed contaminants (U(VI), nitrate, sulfate), (2) elucidate the diversity and distribution of metabolically active metal- and nitrate-reducing prokaryotes in subsurface sediments, and (3) determine the biotic and abiotic mechanisms linking electron transport processes (nitrate, Fe(III), and sulfate reduction) to radionuclide reduction and immobilization. Mechanisms of electron transport and U(VI) transformation were examined under near in situ conditions in sediment microcosms and in field investigations at the Oak Ridge Field Research Center (ORFRC), in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the subsurface is exposed to mixed contamination predominated by uranium and nitrate. A total of 20 publications (16 published or 'in press' and 4 in review), 10 invited talks, and 43 contributed seminars/ meeting presentations were completed during the past four years of the project. PI Kostka served on one proposal review panel each year for the U.S. DOE Office of Science during the four year project period. The PI leveraged funds from the state of Florida to purchase new instrumentation that aided the project. Support was also leveraged by the PI from the Joint Genome Institute in the form of two successful proposals for genome sequencing. Draft genomes are now available for two novel species isolated during our studies and 5 more genomes are in the pipeline. We effectively addressed each of the three project objectives and research highlights are provided. Task I - Isolation and characterization of novel anaerobes: (1) A wide range of pure cultures of metal-reducing bacteria, sulfate-reducing bacteria, and denitrifying bacteria (32 strains) were isolated from subsurface sediments of the Oak Ridge Field Research Center (ORFRC), where the subsurface is exposed to mixed contamination of uranium and nitrate. These isolates which are new to science all show high sequence identity to sequences retrieved from ORFRC subsurface. (2) Based on physiological and phylogenetic characterization, two new species of subsurface bacteria were described: the metal-reducer Geobacter daltonii, and the denitrifier Rhodanobacter denitrificans. (3) Strains isolated from the ORFRC show that Rhodanobacter species are well adapted to the contaminated subsurface. Strains 2APBS1 and 116-2 grow at high salt (3% NaCl), low pH (3.5) and tolerate high concentrations of nitrate (400mM) and nitrite (100mM). Strain 2APBS1 was demonstrated to grow at in situ acidic pHs down to 2.5. (4) R. denitrificans strain 2APBS1 is the first described Rhodanobacter species shown to denitrify. Nitrate is almost entirely converted to N2O, which may account for the large accumulation of N2O in the ORFRC subsurface. (5) G. daltonii, isolated from uranium- and hydrocarbon-contaminated subsurface sediments of the ORFRC, is the first organism from the subsurface clade of the genus Geobacter that is capable of growth on aromatic hydrocarbons. (6) High quality draft genome sequences and a complete eco-physiological description are completed for R. denitrificans strain 2APBS1 and G. daltonii strain FRC-32. (7) Given their demonstrated relevance to DOE remediation efforts and the availability of detailed genotypic/phenotypic characterization, Rhodanobacter denitrificans strain 2APBS1 and Geobacter daltonii strain FRC-32 represent ideal model organisms to provide a predictive understanding of subsurface microbial activity through metabolic modeling. Tasks II and III-Diversity and distribution of active anaerobes and Mechanisms linking electron transport and the fate of radionuclides: (1) Our study showed that members of genus Rhodanobacter and Geobacter are abundant and active in the uranium and nitrate contaminated subsurface. In the contaminant source zone of the Oak Ridge site, Rhodanobacter spp. are the predominant, active organisms detected (comprising 50% to 100% of rRNA detected). (2) We demonstrated for the first time that the function of microbial communities can be quantified in subsurface sediments using messenger RNA assays (molecular proxies) under in situ conditions. (3) Active Geobacteraceae were identified and phylogenetically characterized from the cDNA of messenger RNA extracted from ORFRC subsurface sediment cores. Multiple clone sequences were retrieved from G. uraniireducens, G. daltonii, and G. metallireducens. (4) Results show that Geobacter strain FRC-32 is capable of growth on benzoate, toluene and benzene as the electron donor, thereby providing evidence that this strain is physiologically distinct from other described members of the subsurface Geobacter clade. (5) Fe(III)-reducing bacteria transform structural Fe in clay minerals from their layer edges rather than from their basal surfaces.

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  • Report No.: DOE/ER/64373
  • Grant Number: FG02-07ER64373
  • DOI: 10.2172/1016167 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1016167
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc837627

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  • June 15, 2011

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  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • Aug. 3, 2016, 6:03 p.m.

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Kostka, Joel E.; Kerkhof, Lee; Chin, Kuk-Jeong; Keller, Martin & Stucki, Joseph W. STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION OF SUBSURFACE MICROBIAL COMMUNITIES AFFECTING RADIONUCLIDE TRANSPORT AND BIOIMMOBILIZATION, report, June 15, 2011; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc837627/: accessed October 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.