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Appl Environ Microbiol. Nov 1987; 53(11): 2636–2641.
PMCID: PMC204165
Competitive Mechanisms for Inhibition of Sulfate Reduction and Methane Production in the Zone of Ferric Iron Reduction in Sediments
Derek R. Lovley* and Elizabeth J. P. Phillips
Water Resources Division, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia 22092
* Corresponding author.
Abstract
Mechanisms for inhibition of sulfate reduction and methane production in the zone of Fe(III) reduction in sediments were investigated. Addition of amorphic iron(III) oxyhydroxide to sediments in which sulfate reduction was the predominant terminal electron-accepting process inhibited sulfate reduction 86 to 100%. The decrease in electron flow to sulfate reduction was accompanied by a corresponding increase in electron flow to Fe(III) reduction. In a similar manner, Fe(III) additions also inhibited methane production in sulfate-depleted sediments. The inhibition of sulfate reduction and methane production was the result of substrate limitation, because the sediments retained the potential for sulfate reduction and methane production in the presence of excess hydrogen and acetate. Sediments in which Fe(III) reduction was the predominant terminal electron-accepting process had much lower concentrations of hydrogen and acetate than sediments in which sulfate reduction or methane production was the predominant terminal process. The low concentrations of hydrogen and acetate in the Fe(III)-reducing sediments were the result of metabolism by Fe(III)-reducing organisms of hydrogen and acetate at concentrations lower than sulfate reducers or methanogens could metabolize them. The results indicate that when Fe(III) is in a form that Fe(III)-reducing organisms can readily reduce, Fe(III)-reducing organisms can inhibit sulfate reduction and methane production by outcompeting sulfate reducers and methanogens for electron donors.
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