The so-called Fe/Mn-oxidizing bacteria have long been recognized for their potential to form extracellular iron hydroxide or manganese oxide structures in aquatic environments. Bacterial species belonging to the genus Gallionella, one type of such bacteria, oxidize iron and produce uniquely twisted extracellular stalks consisting of iron oxide-encrusted inorganic/organic fibers. This paper describes the ultrastructure of Gallionella cells and stalks and the visualized structural and spatial localization of constitutive elements within the stalks. Electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray microanalysis showed the export site of the stalk fibers from the cell and the uniform distribution of iron, silicon, and phosphorous in the stalks. Electron energy-loss spectroscopy revealed that the stalk fibers had a central carbon core of bacterial exopolymers and that aquatic iron interacted with oxygen at the surface of the carbon core, resulting in deposition of iron oxides at the surface. This new knowledge of the structural and spatial associations of iron with oxygen and carbon provides deeper insights into the unique inorganic/organic hybrid structure of the stalks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology