Microorganisms pumping iron: Anaerobic microbial iron oxidation and reduction

Karrie A. Weber, Laurie A. Achenbach, John D. Coates

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

906 Scopus citations

Abstract

Iron (Fe) has long been a recognized physiological requirement for life, yet for many microorganisms that persist in water, soils and sediments, its role extends well beyond that of a nutritional necessity. Fe(II) can function as an electron source for iron-oxidizing microorganisms under both oxic and anoxic conditions and Fe(III) can function as a terminal electron acceptor under anoxic conditions for iron-reducing microorganisms. Given that iron is the fourth most abundant element in the Earth's crust, iron redox reactions have the potential to support substantial microbial populations in soil and sedimentary environments. As such, biological iron apportionment has been described as one of the most ancient forms of microbial metabolism on Earth, and as a conceivable extraterrestrial metabolism on other iron-mineral-rich planets such as Mars. Furthermore, the metabolic versatility of the microorganisms involved in these reactions has resulted in the development of biotechnological applications to remediate contaminated environments and harvest energy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)752-764
Number of pages13
JournalNature Reviews Microbiology
Volume4
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Infectious Diseases

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