Microbial processes are known to mediate selenium (Se) oxidation–reduction reactions, strongly influencing Se speciation, bioavailability, and transport throughout the environment. While these processes have commonly been studied in anaerobic bacteria, the role that aerobic fungi play in Se redox reactions could be important for Se-rich soil systems, dominated by microbial activity. We quantified fungal growth, aerobic Se(IV, VI) reduction, and Se immobilization and volatilization in the presence of six, metal-tolerant Ascomycete fungi. We found that the removal of dissolved Se was dependent on the fungal species, Se form (i.e., selenite or selenate), and Se concentration. All six species grew and removed dissolved Se(IV) or Se(VI) from solution, with five species reducing both oxyanions to Se(0) biominerals, and all six species removing at least 15%–20% of the supplied Se via volatilization. Growth rates of all fungi, however, decreased with increasing Se(IV,VI) concentrations. All fungi removed 85%–93% of the dissolved Se(IV) within 10 d in the presence of 0.01 mm Se(IV), although only about 20%–30% Se(VI) was removed when grown with 0.01 mm Se(VI). Fungi-produced biominerals were typically 50- to 300-nm-diameter amorphous or paracrystalline spherical Se(0) nanoparticles. Our results demonstrate that activity of common soil fungi can influence Se form and distribution, and these organisms may therefore play a role in detoxifying Se-polluted environments.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Research was supported by a Smithsonian Institution Competitive Grants Program for Science (CMS and CER), Smithsonian Institution Postdoctoral Fellowship (CER), NSF Natural History Research Experience (JAK), and NSF EAR postdoctoral fellowship (CER, Grant #: 1452666). TEM work was carried out in the Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, a member of the NSF-funded Materials Research Facilities Network (www.mrfn.org) via the MRSEC program. The authors specifically thank Fang Zhou and Jason Meyers for their help with TEM analysis.
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