Microbial communities biostimulated by ethanol during uranium (VI) bioremediation in contaminated sediment as shown by stable isotope probing Academic Article uri icon


  • 2014, Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Stable isotope probing (SIP) was used to identify microbes stimulated by ethanol addition in microcosms containing two sediments collected from the bioremediation test zone at the US Department of Energy Oak Ridge site, TN, USA. One sample was highly bioreduced with ethanol while another was less reduced. Microcosms with the respective sediments were amended with 13C labeled ethanol and incubated for 7 days for SIP. Ethanol was rapidly converted to acetate within 24 h accompanied with the reduction of nitrate and sulfate. The accumulation of acetate persisted beyond the 7 d period. Aqueous U did not decline in the microcosm with the reduced sediment due to desorption of U but continuously declined in the less reduced sample. Microbial growth and concomitant 13C-DNA production was detected when ethanol was exhausted and abundant acetate had accumulated in both microcosms. This coincided with U(VI) reduction in the less reduced sample. 13C originating from ethanol was ultimately utilized for growth, either directly or indirectly, by the dominant microbial community members within 7 days of incubation. The microbial community was comprised predominantly of known denitrifiers, sulfate-reducing bacteria and iron (III) reducing bacteria including Desulfovibrio, Sphingomonas, Ferribacterium, Rhodanobacter, Geothrix, Thiobacillus and others, including the known U(VI)-reducing bacteria Acidovorax, Anaeromyxobacter, Desulfovibrio, Geobacter and Desulfosporosinus. The findings suggest that ethanol biostimulates the U(VI)-reducing microbial community by first serving as an electron donor for nitrate, sulfate, iron (III) and U(VI) reduction, and acetate which then functions as electron donor for U(VI) reduction and carbon source for microbial growth.

published proceedings

  • Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering

author list (cited authors)

  • Leigh, M. B., Wu, W., Cardenas, E., Uhlik, O., Carroll, S., Gentry, T., ... Tiedje, J. M.

citation count

  • 21

complete list of authors

  • Leigh, Mary Beth||Wu, Wei-Min||Cardenas, Erick||Uhlik, Ondrej||Carroll, Sue||Gentry, Terry||Marsh, Terence L||Zhou, Jizhong||Jardine, Philip||Criddle, Craig S||Tiedje, James M

publication date

  • June 2015