Advances in the Detection of As in Environmental Samples Using Low Energy X-ray Fluorescence in a Scanning Transmission X-ray Microscope: Arsenic Immobilization by an Fe(II)-Oxidizing Freshwater Bacteria
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Speciation and quantitative mapping of elements, organic and inorganic compounds, and mineral phases in environmental samples at high spatial resolution is needed in many areas of geobiochemistry and environmental science. Scanning transmission X-ray microscopes (STXMs) provide a focused beam which can interrogate samples at a fine spatial scale. Quantitative chemical information can be extracted using the transmitted and energy-resolved X-ray fluorescence channels simultaneously. Here we compare the relative merits of transmission and low-energy X-ray fluorescence detection of X-ray absorption for speciation and quantitative analysis of the spatial distribution of arsenic(V) within cell-mineral aggregates formed by Acidovorax sp. strain BoFeN1, an anaerobic nitrate-reducing Fe(II)-oxidizing β-proteobacteria isolated from the sediments of Lake Constance. This species is noted to be highly tolerant to high levels of As(V). Related, As-tolerant Acidovorax-strains have been found in As-contaminated groundwater wells in Bangladesh and Cambodia wherein they might influence the mobility of As by providing sorption sites which might have different properties as compared to chemically formed Fe-minerals. In addition to demonstrating the lower detection limits that are achieved with X-ray fluorescence relative to transmission detection in STXM, this study helps to gain insights into the mechanisms of As immobilization by biogenic Fe-mineral formation and to further the understanding of As-resistance of anaerobic Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria.
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