Micro-colonization of arsenic-resistant Staphylococcus sp. As-3 on arsenopyrite (FeAsS) drives arsenic mobilization under anoxic sub-surface mimicking conditions

Jagat Rathod, Jiin Shuh Jean, Wei Teh Jiang, I. Hsiu Huang, Bernard Haochih Liu, Yao Chang Lee

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22 Scopus citations


We investigated the subsurface biomatrix of the most abundant As-mineral, arsenopyrite (FeAsS), and meticulously studied a potential biogenic arsenic mobilization phenomenon. An arsenic-resistant [up to 7.5 mM As(III) and 200 mM As(V)] and arsenate-reducing bacterial strain (Staphylococcus sp. As-3) was isolated from a sediment core sample taken from the Budai borehole, on the southwestern coast of Taiwan. Isolate As-3 could reduce 5 mM As(V) to 3.04 mM in 96 h, generating 1.6 mM As(III) under anoxic conditions. Isolate As-3, which adsorbed As(V) up to 19.02 mg g −1 (cdw) and As(III) up to 0.46 mg g −1 (cdw), demonstrated effective As-bioaccumulating ability, as corroborated by a TEM-EDS analysis. Under anaerobic batch conditions, isolate As-3 micro-colonies could grow on as well as interact with arsenopyrite (FeAsS), mobilizing arsenic into soluble phase as As(III) and As(V). Using synchrotron radiation-based FTIR micro-spectroscopy, various functional group signatures and critical chemical bonds enabling a direct interaction with arsenopyrite were underpinned, such as a potential P-OFe bond involved in facilitating bacteria-mineral interaction. Using atomic force microscopy, we analyzed the scattered bacterial cell arrangement and structure and measured various biomechanical properties of micro-colonized Staphylococcus sp. As-3 cells on arsenopyrite. We suggest that the release of organic acids from As-3 drives soluble arsenic release in the aqueous phase under anoxic conditions through oxidative dissolution. Furthermore, arsC-encoding putative cytoplasmic arsenic reductase sequencing and transcript characterization indicated that arsC plays a possible role in the reduction of moderately soluble As(V) to highly soluble toxic As(III) under anoxic conditions. Thus, we suggest that firmicutes such as Staphylococcus sp. As-3 may play an important role in microbially-mediated arsenic mobilization, leading to arsenic release in the sub-surface niche.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-539
Number of pages13
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2019


  • Arsenate reductase (arsC)
  • Arsenopyrite
  • Bacteria-mineral interaction
  • Micro-colonization
  • Mobilization
  • Staphylococcus sp. As-3


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