, Volume 23, Issue 10, pp 1900–1914 | Cite as

Arsenic release from shallow aquifers of the Hetao basin, Inner Mongolia: evidence from bacterial community in aquifer sediments and groundwater



Indigenous microbes play crucial roles in arsenic mobilization in high arsenic groundwater systems. Databases concerning the presence and the activity of microbial communities are very useful in evaluating the potential of microbe-mediated arsenic mobilization in shallow aquifers hosting high arsenic groundwater. This study characterized microbial communities in groundwaters at different depths with different arsenic concentrations by DGGE and one sediment by 16S rRNA gene clone library, and evaluated arsenic mobilization in microcosm batches with the presence of indigenous bacteria. DGGE fingerprints revealed that the community structure changed substantially with depth at the same location. It indicated that a relatively higher bacterial diversity was present in the groundwater sample with lower arsenic concentration. Sequence analysis of 16S rRNA gene demonstrated that the sediment bacteria mainly belonged to Pseudomonas, Dietzia and Rhodococcus, which have been widely found in aquifer systems. Additionally, NO3 -reducing bacteria Pseudomonas sp. was the largest group, followed by Fe(III)-reducing, SO4 2−-reducing and As(V)-reducing bacteria in the sediment sample. These anaerobic bacteria used the specific oxyanions as electron acceptor and played a significant role in reductive dissolution of Fe oxide minerals, reduction of As(V), and release of arsenic from sediments into groundwater. Microcosm experiments, using intact aquifer sediments, showed that arsenic release and Fe(III) reduction were microbially mediated in the presence of indigenous bacteria. High arsenic concentration was also observed in the batch without amendment of organic carbon, demonstrating that the natural organic matter in sediments was the potential electron donor for microbially mediated arsenic release from these aquifer sediments.


Groundwater Sediment High arsenic DGGE 16S rRNA Clone library 



The study was financially supported by the Program for New Century Excellent Talents in University (No. NCET-07-0770), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41222020 and 41172224), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. 2652013028), and the Fccok Ying-Tung Education Foundation, China (Grant No. 131017). The access to Microbial Laboratory of China University of Geosciences (Beijing) is highly acknowledged.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental GeologyChina University of GeosciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Water Resources and EnvironmentChina University of GeosciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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