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Rapid assay for microbially reducible ferric iron in aquatic sediments

July 1, 1987

The availability of ferric iron for microbial reduction as directly determined by the activity of iron-reducing organisms was compared with its availability as determined by a newly developed chemical assay for microbially reducible iron. The chemical assay was based on the reduction of poorly crystalline ferric iron by hydroxylamine under acidic conditions. There was a strong correlation between the extent to which hydroxylamine could reduce various synthetic ferric iron forms and the susceptibility of the iron to microbial reduction in an enrichment culture of iron-reducing organisms. When sediments that contained hydroxylamine-reducible ferric iron were incubated under anaerobic conditions, ferrous iron accumulated as the concentration of hydroxylamine-reducible ferric iron declined over time. Ferrous iron production stopped as soon as the hydroxylamine-reducible ferric iron was depleted. In anaerobic incubations of reduced sediments that did not contain hydroxylamine-reducible ferric iron, there was no microbial iron reduction, even though the sediments contained high concentrations of oxalate-extractable ferric iron. A correspondence between the presence of hydroxylamine-reducible ferric iron and the extent of ferric iron reduction in anaerobic incubations was observed in sediments from an aquifer and in fresh- and brackish-water sediments from the Potomac River estuary. The assay is a significant improvement over previously described procedures for the determination of hydroxylamine-reducible ferric iron because it provides a correction for the high concentrations of solid ferrous iron which may also be extracted from sediments with acid. This is a rapid, simple technique to determine whether ferric iron is available for microbial reduction.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1987
Title Rapid assay for microbially reducible ferric iron in aquatic sediments
DOI
Authors Derek R. Lovely, Elizabeth J.P. Philips
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Series Number
Index ID 70185943
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Toxic Substances Hydrology Program