Bacterial Transformations of Metals in Soil

Authored by: Terence L. Marsh , David Long , Thomas Voice

Handbook of Soil Sciences Properties and Processes

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  November  2011

Print ISBN: 9781439803059
eBook ISBN: 9781439803066
Adobe ISBN:


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Soil ecosystems contain one of the most complex microbial communities on earth. The number of species per gram of soil is controversial (Torsvik et al., 1990, 2002; Dunbar et al., 2002; Torsvik and Ovreas, 2002) but it is certainly large. Each species may interact with metals in different ways. The number of different soil types and the resulting number of possible metal-bacteria complexes result in an interactive matrix of a size well beyond the scope of this chapter. Our objective therefore is to provide an overview of the microbial-metal interactions in soil rather than an exhaustive accounting of all known interactions. Given the physiological diversity of microbes and their ubiquity, they can influence nearly every abiotic process of the metal-soil repertoire through their own habitat-altering metabolic capabilities. In addition, they can reduce or oxidize metals directly through metabolism that can result in habitat alteration at landscape scales. Below we provide a brief description of the fate of metals in soils followed by the microbial processes that alter and transform the state of metals.

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