Organic Matter from Redoximorphic Soils Accelerates and Sustains Microbial Fe(III) Reduction

Andreas Fritzsche, Julian Bosch, Michael Sander, Christian Schröder, James M. Byrne, Thomas Ritschel, Prachi Joshi, Markus Maisch, Rainer U. Meckenstock, Andreas Kappler, Kai U. Totsche

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24 Scopus citations


Microbial reduction of Fe(III) minerals is a prominent process in redoximorphic soils and is strongly affected by organic matter (OM). We herein determined the rate and extent of microbial reduction of ferrihydrite (Fh) with either adsorbed or coprecipitated OM by Geobacter sulfurreducens. We focused on OM-mediated effects on electron uptake and alterations in Fh crystallinity. The OM was obtained from anoxic soil columns (effluent OM, efOM) and included - unlike water-extractable OM - compounds released by microbial activity under anoxic conditions. We found that organic molecules in efOM had generally no or only very low electron-accepting capacity and were incorporated into the Fh aggregates when coprecipitated with Fh. Compared to OM-free Fh, adsorption of efOM to Fh decelerated the microbial Fe(III) reduction by passivating the Fh surface toward electron uptake. In contrast, coprecipitation of Fh with efOM accelerated the microbial reduction, likely because efOM disrupted the Fh structure, as noted by Mössbauer spectroscopy. Additionally, the adsorbed and coprecipitated efOM resulted in a more sustained Fe(III) reduction, potentially because efOM could have effectively scavenged biogenic Fe(II) and prevented the passivation of the Fh surface by the adsorbed Fe(II). Fe(III)-OM coprecipitates forming at anoxic-oxic interfaces are thus likely readily reducible by Fe(III)-reducing bacteria in redoximorphic soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10821-10831
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number15
StatePublished - 3 Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • DOM
  • Mössbauer spectroscopy
  • dissolved organic matter
  • electron-accepting capacity
  • ferrihydrite
  • iron oxide
  • mediated electrochemical reduction


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