Description: This is the final report of a three-year, Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) project at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Iron is a universal requirement for all life forms. Although the fourth most abundant element in the geosphere, iron is virtually insoluble at physiological pH in oxidizing environments, existing mainly as very insoluble oxides and hydroxides. Currently it is not understood how iron is solubilized and made available for biological use. This research project addressed this topic by conducting a series of experiments that utilized techniques from both soil microbiology and mineral surface geochemistry. Microbiological analysis consisted of the examination of metabolic and physiological responses to mineral iron supplements. At the same time mineral surfaces were examined for structural changes brought about by microbially mediated dissolution. The results of these experiments demonstrated that (1) bacterial siderophores were able to promote the dissolution of iron oxides, (2) that strict aerobic microorganisms may use anaerobic processes to promote iron oxide dissolution, and (3) that it is possible to image the surface of iron oxides undergoing microbial dissolution.
Date: December 31, 1998
Creator: Hersman, L.E. & Sposito, G.
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