Fermentation, methanotrophy and methanogenesis influence sedimentary Fe and As dynamics in As-affected aquifers in Vietnam

Martyna Glodowska, Magnus Schneider, Elisabeth Eiche, Agnes Kontny, Thomas Neumann, Daniel Straub, Michael Berg, Henning Prommer, Benjamin C. Bostick, Athena A. Nghiem, Sara Kleindienst, Andreas Kappler

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13 Citations (Web of Science)


High arsenic (As) concentrations in groundwater are a worldwide problem threatening the health of millions of people. Microbial processes are central in the (trans)formation of the As-bearing ferric and ferrous minerals, and thus regulate dissolved As levels in many aquifers. Mineralogy, microbiology and dissolved As levels can vary sharply within aquifers, making high-resolution measurements particularly valuable in understanding the linkages between them. We conducted a high spatial resolution geomicrobiological study in combination with analysis of sediment chemistry and mineralogy in an alluvial aquifer system affected by geogenic As in the Red River delta in Vietnam. Microbial community analysis revealed a dominance of fermenters, methanogens and methanotrophs whereas sediment mineralogy along a 46 m deep core showed a diversity of Fe minerals including poorly crystalline Fe (II/III) and Fe(III) (oxyhydr)oxides such as goethite, hematite, and magnetite, but also the presence of Fe(II)-bearing carbonates and sulfides which likely formed as a result of microbially driven organic carbon (OC) degradation. A potential important role of methane (CH4) as electron donor for reductive Fe mineral (trans)formation was supported by the high abundance of Candidatus Methanoperedens, a known Fe(III)-reducing methanotroph. Overall, these results imply that OC turnover including fermentation, methanogenesis and CH4 oxidation are important mechanisms leading to Fe mineral (trans)formation, dissolution and precipitation, and thus indirectly affecting As mobility by changing the Fe-mineral inventory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number146501
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2021


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