Microorganisms and the biogeochemical cycling of metals in aquatic environments

  • David Barrie Johnson


Microorganisms may alter the availability of metals in the environment by a variety of means. Whilst eukaryotic microorganisms can bring about certain of the various metal transformations described below, the major protagonists of metal cycling in aquatic ecosystems are prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea). The cycling of metals generally involves phase changes (usually between soluble and insoluble forms) which have major impacts on the biological availability of metals. These may produce problems of metal deficiency on the one extreme, and metal toxicity on the other. Various reviews on different aspects of this subject are available in the scientific literature. These include a concise review of metal-microbe interactions by Ford et al.1995) and a more detailed account of the same subject matter in a text by Hughes and Poole (1989). Two older review articles remain among the most regularly cited works in this area: one by Summers and Silver (1978), which focused on the role of microorganisms in metal transformations (defined as those changes involving changes in valence or changes from inorganic to covalently linked organic forms), and the second by Gadd and Griffiths (1978), which reviewed the toxicity of heavy metal to microbes. An ecological perspective of metal cycling and metal toxicity was described in the review by Duxbury (1985), while the role of microbially mediated metal transformations in bioremedia-tion of contaminated waters was reviewed by Brierley (1990).


Acid Mine Drainage Ferric Iron Biogeochemical Cycling Magnetotactic Bacterium Thiobacillus Ferrooxidans 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

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  • David Barrie Johnson

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