The dissimilatory Fe(III)-reducing bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens reduced and precipitated Tc(VII) by two mechanisms. Washed cell suspensions coupled the oxidation of hydrogen to enzymatic reduction of Tc(VII) to Tc(IV), leading to the precipitation of TcO(2) at the periphery of the cell. An indirect, Fe(II)-mediated mechanism was also identified. Acetate, although not utilized efficiently as an electron donor for direct cell-mediated reduction of technetium, supported the reduction of Fe(III), and the Fe(II) formed was able to transfer electrons abiotically to Tc(VII). Tc(VII) reduction was comparatively inefficient via this indirect mechanism when soluble Fe(III) citrate was supplied to the cultures but was enhanced in the presence of solid Fe(III) oxide. The rate of Tc(VII) reduction was optimal, however, when Fe(III) oxide reduction was stimulated by the addition of the humic analog and electron shuttle anthaquinone-2,6-disulfonate, leading to the rapid formation of the Fe(II)-bearing mineral magnetite. Under these conditions, Tc(VII) was reduced and precipitated abiotically on the nanocrystals of biogenic magnetite as TcO(2) and was removed from solution to concentrations below the limit of detection by scintillation counting. Cultures of Fe(III)-reducing bacteria enriched from radionuclide-contaminated sediment using Fe(III) oxide as an electron acceptor in the presence of 25 microM Tc(VII) contained a single Geobacter sp. detected by 16S ribosomal DNA analysis and were also able to reduce and precipitate the radionuclide via biogenic magnetite. Fe(III) reduction was stimulated in aquifer material, resulting in the formation of Fe(II)-containing minerals that were able to reduce and precipitate Tc(VII). These results suggest that Fe(III)-reducing bacteria may play an important role in immobilizing technetium in sediments via direct and indirect mechanisms.
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