Use of poisons in determination of microbial manganese binding rates in seawater

R. A. Rosson, B. M. Tebo, K. H. Nealson

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66 Scopus citations


A method was developed to determine whether microorganisms mediate the precipitation of manganese(II) in the marine environment. Radioactive 54Mn(II) was used as a tracer to measure the precipitation (binding and oxidation) of Mn(II) [i.e., the 54Mn(II) trapped on 0.2-μm membrane filters] in the presence and absence of biological poisons. A variety of antibiotics, fixatives, and metabolic inhibitors were tested in laboratory control experiments to select poisons that did not interfere in the chemistry of manganese. The poisons were deemed suitable if (i) they did not complex Mn(II) more strongly than the ion-exchange resin Chelex 100, (ii) they did not interfere in the adsorption of 54Mn(II) onto synthetic δMnO2 (manganate), (iii) they did not cause desorption of 54Mn(II) which had been preadsorbed onto synthetic manganate, and (iv) they did not solubilize synthetic 54manganate. In addition, several known chelators, reducing agents, and buffers normally added to microbiological growth media or used in biochemical assays were tested. Most additions interfered to some extent with manganese chemistry. However, at least one inhibitor, sodium azide, or a mixture of sodium azide, penicillin, and tetracycline was shown to be appropriate for use in field studies of 54Mn(II) binding. Formaldehyde could also be used in short incubations (1 to 3 h) but was not suitable for longer time course studies. The method was applied to studies of Mn(II) precipitation in Saanich Inlet, British Columbia, Canada. Bacteria were shown to significantly enhance the rate of Mn(II) removal from solution in the manganese-rich particulate layer which occurs just above the oxygen-hydrogen sulfide interface in the water column.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)740-745
Number of pages6
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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