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Mercury mobilization by chemical and microbial iron oxide reduction in soils of French Guyana

Abstract : Iron oxy(hydr)oxides (oxides) are important mercury sinks in tropical oxisols and the geochemistry of these two elements are thus closely entwined. We hypothesized that bacterial Fe-oxide reduction in anoxic conditions could be a significant mechanism for mobilizing associated Hg. Iron oxide and mercury solubilisation in presence of two chemical reducers (ascorbate and dithionite, dissolving amorphous and amorphous plus well crystallized Fe-oxides, respectively) was compared to their solubilisation in presence of autochthonous ferri-reducing bacteria. This work was carried out on two soil profiles from a small catchment basin in French Guyana, an oxisol (O) from a well drained slope and a water-saturated hydromorphic soil (H). The chemical reductions showed that in the oxisol 20 and 48% of total Hg (HgT) was associated to amorphous and well crystallized iron oxides, respectively. However, in the hydromorphic soil, no Hg seemed to be associated to amorphous iron oxides while the well crystallized fraction contained less than 9% of HgT. Chemical Fe-oxide reduction showed that Hg solubility was correlated to Fe reduction in the oxisol, demonstrating a relationship between the geochemistry of these two metals. During bacterial growth, while bacterial iron reduction solubilised up to 3.2 mg Fe g-1 soil in the oxisol sample, HgT remained unchanged. No mercury was detected in the culture medium either. However, chemical analysis showed a decrease of the amounts of Hg associated to amorphous and well crystallized Fe-oxides after 14 days of incubation, underlining the potential for iron-reducing bacteria to modify mercury distribution in soil.
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Submitted on : Friday, November 19, 2010 - 5:38:12 PM
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Jennifer Hellal, Michel Grimaldi, Evelyne Garnier-Zarli, Noureddine Bousserrhine. Mercury mobilization by chemical and microbial iron oxide reduction in soils of French Guyana. Biogeochemistry, Springer Verlag, 2010, 103 (1-3), pp.DOI 10.1007/s 10533-010-9457-y. ⟨10.1007/s10533-010-9457-y⟩. ⟨bioemco-00537841⟩



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