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Open AccessArticle

Ample Arsenite Bio-Oxidation Activity in Bangladesh Drinking Water Wells: A Bonanza for Bioremediation?

Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Department of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Jagannath University, Dhaka 1100, Bangladesh
Department of Microbiology, University of Dhaka, Dhaka 1000, Bangladesh
Manchester Centre for Integrative Systems Biology (MCISB), School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Sciences (SCEAS), the University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
Synthetic Systems Biology and Nuclear Organization, Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam, 1098 XH Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Deceased 25 September 2015.
Microorganisms 2019, 7(8), 246;
Received: 18 June 2019 / Revised: 26 July 2019 / Accepted: 31 July 2019 / Published: 8 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Subsurface Geomicrobiology)
Millions of people worldwide are at risk of arsenic poisoning from their drinking water. In Bangladesh the problem extends to rural drinking water wells, where non-biological solutions are not feasible. In serial enrichment cultures of water from various Bangladesh drinking water wells, we found transfer-persistent arsenite oxidation activity under four conditions (aerobic/anaerobic; heterotrophic/autotrophic). This suggests that biological decontamination may help ameliorate the problem. The enriched microbial communities were phylogenetically at least as diverse as the unenriched communities: they contained a bonanza of 16S rRNA gene sequences. These related to Hydrogenophaga, Acinetobacter, Dechloromonas, Comamonas, and Rhizobium/Agrobacterium species. In addition, the enriched microbiomes contained genes highly similar to the arsenite oxidase (aioA) gene of chemolithoautotrophic (e.g., Paracoccus sp. SY) and heterotrophic arsenite-oxidizing strains. The enriched cultures also contained aioA phylotypes not detected in the previous survey of uncultivated samples from the same wells. Anaerobic enrichments disclosed a wider diversity of arsenite oxidizing aioA phylotypes than did aerobic enrichments. The cultivatable chemolithoautotrophic and heterotrophic arsenite oxidizers are of great interest for future in or ex-situ arsenic bioremediation technologies for the detoxification of drinking water by oxidizing arsenite to arsenate that should then precipitates with iron oxides. The microbial activities required for such a technology seem present, amplifiable, diverse and hence robust. View Full-Text
Keywords: arsenite oxidation; aioA; bioenergetics; water; systems microbial ecology; bioremediation arsenite oxidation; aioA; bioenergetics; water; systems microbial ecology; bioremediation
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Hassan, Z.; Sultana, M.; Khan, S.I.; Braster, M.; Röling, W.F.; Westerhoff, H.V. Ample Arsenite Bio-Oxidation Activity in Bangladesh Drinking Water Wells: A Bonanza for Bioremediation? Microorganisms 2019, 7, 246.

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