Manganese oxides form typically in natural aqueous environments via Mn(II) oxidation catalyzed by microorganisms, primarily bacteria, but little is known about the structure of the incipient solid-phase products. The Mn oxide produced by a Pseudomonas species representative of soils and freshwaters was characterized as to composition, average Mn oxidation number, and N2 specific surface area. Electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and X-ray absorption near edge structure spectroscopy were applied to complement the physicochemical data with morphological and structural information. A series of synthetic Mn oxides also was analyzed by the same methods to gain better comparative understanding of the structure of the biogenic oxide. The latter was found to be a poorly crystalline layer type Mn(IV) oxide with hexagonal symmetry, significant negative structural charge arising from cation vacancies, and a relatively small number of randomly stacked octahedral sheets per particle. Its properties were comparable to those of δ-MnO2 (vernadite) and a poorly crystalline hexagonal birnessite ("acid birnessite") synthesized by reduction of permanganate with HCl, but they were very different from those of crystalline triclinic birnessite. Overall, the structure and composition of the Mn oxide produced by P. putida were similar to what has been reported for other freshly precipitated Mn oxides in natural weathering environments, yielding further support to the predominance of biological oxidation as the pathway for Mn oxide formation. Despite variations in the degree of sheet stacking and Mn(III) content, all poorly crystalline oxides studied showed hexagonal symmetry. Thus, there is a need to distinguish layer type Mn oxides with structures similar to those of natural birnessites from the synthetic triclinic variety. We propose designating the unit cell symmetry as an addition to the current nomenclature for these minerals.
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We would like to acknowledge the valuable discussions with Alain Manceau (University of Grenoble) on the analysis and interpretation of XRD patterns and XANES spectra. We also thank Gordon Vrdoljak (Electron Microscopy Laboratory, Berkeley) for assistance in the use of the electron microscopes and the interpretation of micrographs. We wholly appreciate the N 2 specific surface area determinations carried out by Sabine Goldberg (George E. Brown, Jr. Salinity Laboratory, Riverside). We thank the anonymous reviewer, who helped improve the overall presentation of the manuscript. This work was funded by the National Science Foundation, Collaborative Research Activities in Environmental Molecular Science (CRAEMS) program (CHE-0089208).
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