Lookup NU author(s): Dr Angela Sherry,
Professor Ian Head
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).
Marine sediments represent an important sink for a number of anthropogenic organic contaminants, including petroleum hydrocarbons following an accidental oil spill. Degradation of these compounds largely depends on the activity of sedimentary microbial communities linked to biogeochemical cycles, in which abundant elements such as iron and sulfur are shuttled between their oxidized and reduced forms. Here we show that introduction of a small electrically conductive graphite rod (“the electrochemical snorkel”) into an oil-contaminated River Tyne (UK) sediment, so as to create an electrochemical connection between the anoxic contaminated sediment and the oxygenated overlying water, has a large impact on the rate of metabolic reactions taking place in the bulk sediment. The electrochemical snorkel accelerated sulfate reduction processes driven by organic contaminant oxidation and suppressed competitive methane-producing reactions. The application of a comprehensive suite of chemical, spectroscopic, biomolecular and thermodynamic analyses suggested that the snorkel served as a scavenger of toxic sulfide via a redox interaction with the iron cycle. Taken as a whole, the results of this work highlight a new strategy for manipulating biological processes, such as bioremediation, corrosion, and carbon sequestration, through the manipulation of the electron flows in contaminated sediments.
Author(s): Cruz Viggi C, Matturro B, Frascadore E, Insogna S, Mezzi A, Kaciulis S, Sherry A, Mejeha OK, Head IM, Vaiopoulou E, Rabaey K, Rossetti S, Aulenta F
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Water Research
Print publication date: 15/12/2017
Online publication date: 03/10/2017
Acceptance date: 01/10/2017
ISSN (print): 0043-1354
ISSN (electronic): 1879-2448
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