[Thermophilic microbial metal reduction]

A I Slobodkin
Mikrobiologiia 2005, 74 (5): 581-95
Thermophilic microorganisms can reduce Fe(III), Mn(IV), Cr(VI), U(VI), Tc(VII), Co(III), Mo(VI), Au(I, III), and Hg(II). Ferric iron and Mn(IV) can be used as electron acceptors during growth; the physiological role of the reduction of the other metals is unclear. The process of microbial dissimilatory reduction of Fe(III) is the most thoroughly studied. Iron-reducing prokaryotes have been found in virtually all of the recognized types of terrestrial ecosystems, from hot continental springs to goethermally heated subsurface sediments. Thermophilic iron reducers do not belong to a phylogenetically homogenous group and include representatives of many bacterial and archaeal taxa. Iron reducing thermophiles can couple Fe(III) reduction with oxidation of a wide spectrum of organic and inorganic compounds. In the thermophilic microbial community, they can fulfil both degradative and productive functions. Thermophilic prokaryotes probably carried out global reduction of metals on Earth in ancient times, and, at the same time, they are promising candidates for use in modern biotechnological processes.

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