Phosphate Cycling in the Presence of Biogenic Iron Oxides and Iron-Reducing Bacteria

Title: Phosphate Cycling in the Presence of Biogenic Iron Oxides and Iron-Reducing Bacteria
Authors: Meyers, Emily
Date: 2018
Abstract: Nutrient pollution from industrial activity is an environmental problem that persists in water bodies near urban settings, and has been a primary contributor to eutrophication, bacterial contamination, and harmful algal blooms. Biogenic iron oxides offer a potential solution to the treatment of lakes and rivers containing high concentrations of phosphate, the limiting nutrient in aquatic systems. Soluble ferrous iron can act as an electron donor for iron-oxidizing bacteria, which thrive in low-oxygen environments. This results in the formation of insoluble ferric iron minerals, ideal adsorbents for negatively charged phosphate. Conversely, iron-reducing bacteria reduce ferric iron to form ferrous iron, resulting in the formation of secondary minerals depending on the chemistry of the particular environment. This project investigates the chemical conditions at which biogenic iron oxides have the maximum adsorptive capacity, especially with respect to organic carbon content. A simplified model of natural biogenic iron oxides was synthesized by co-precipitating the mineral ferrihydrite (a common iron oxide) with the polysaccharide alginate, an analogue to bacterial exopolysaccharides. At the levels of carbon investigated, organic matter was not found to affect the adsorptive capacity of iron oxides at the C/Fe ratios analyzed. Similarly, organic matter did not appear to significantly influence the rate of reduction of ferrihydrite by the iron-reducing bacterium Shewanella putrefaciens CN32. Presence of organics did however influence rates of reduction and the mineralogy of the post-reduction precipitates. Phosphate adsorbed to iron oxides prior to microbial reduction greatly increased both the rate and the extent of ferric iron reduced, and also had an impact on the secondary minerals that formed (vivianite, green rust). An improved understanding of these conditions could contribute to a more efficient process by which iron-oxidizing bacteria are used for large-scale industrial water treatment.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -