Ferrihydrite (Fh) is a major Fe(III)-(oxyhydr)oxide nanomineral distinguished by its poor crystallinity and thermodynamic metastability. While it is well known that in suboxic conditions aqueous Fe(II) rapidly catalyzes Fh transformation to more stable crystalline Fe(III) phases such as lepidocrocite (Lp) and goethite (Gt), because of the low solubility of Fe(III) the mass transfer pathways enabling these rapid transformations have remained unclear for decades. Here, using a selective extractant, we isolated and quantified a critical labile Fe(III) species, one that is more reactive than Fe(III) in Fh, formed by the oxidation of aqueous Fe(II) on the Fh surface. Experiments that compared time-dependent concentrations of solid-associated Fe(II) and this labile Fe(III) against the kinetics of phase transformation showed that its accumulation is directly related to Lp/Gt formation in a manner consistent with the classical nucleation theory. 57Fe isotope tracer experiments confirm the oxidized Fe(II) origin of labile Fe(III). The transformation pathway as well as the accelerating effect of Fe(II) can now all be explained on a unified basis of the kinetics of Fe(III) olation and oxolation reactions necessary to nucleate and sustain growth of Lp/Gt products, rates of which are greatly accelerated by labile Fe(III).
Adsorption kinetics and conformational changes of a model protein, bovine serum albumin (BSA, 0.1, 0.5, or 1.0 g/L), on the surface of hematite (α-Fe2O3) particles in 39 ± 9, 68 ± 9, and 103 ± 8 nm, respectively, were measured using attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy. As the particle size increases, the amount of adsorbed BSA decreases, but the loss in the helical structure of adsorbed BSA increases due to the stronger interaction forces between adsorbed BSA and the larger particles. On 39 or 68 nm hematite particles, refolding of adsorbed BSA can be induced by protein–protein interactions, when the protein surface coverage exceeds certain critical values. Two-dimensional correlation spectroscopy (2D-COS) analysis of time-dependent ATR-FTIR spectra indicate that the increase in the amount of adsorbed BSA occurs prior to the loss in the BSA helical structure in the initial stage of adsorption processes, whereas an opposite sequence of the changes to BSA conformation and surface coverage is observed during the subsequent refolding processes. Desorption experiments show that replacing the protein solution with water can quench the refolding, but not the unfolding, of adsorbed BSA. A kinetic model was proposed to quantitatively describe the interplay of adsorption kinetics and conformational change, as well as the effects of particle size and initial protein concentration on the rate constants of elementary steps in protein adsorption onto a mineral surface.
Magnetite-mediated direct interspecies electron transfer (DIET) can facilitate syntrophic metabolism in natural microbial communities and also promote the performance of the engineered systems based on syntrophic interactions. In this study, the stimulatory effect of bare synthetic magnetite (Mt), humic acid coated magnetite, and SiO2 coated magnetite (Mt-SiO2) on DIET in defined co-cultures of Geobacter metallireducens/Geobacter sulfurreducens were studied. Magnetite coated with Aldrich humic acid (HA) and Elliott Soil humic acid (HAES), respectively, were prepared, and the two kinds of humic acid influenced the ability of Mt to promote syntrophic metabolism of the co-cultures in a similar way. When weight concentration was the same, pure humic acid presented the stimulatory effect on DIET similar to bare magnetite. However, the presence of HA coating on magnetite surface caused 50% and 61%, respectively, decrease in the rates of ethanol consumption (Re) and succinate production (Rs) in DIET processes. Pure HA in the same weight concentration as the HA coating in Mt-HA induced the similar metabolism rates as Mt-HA. In the Mt-HA mediated DIET, most electrons from ethanol metabolism were transferred to G. sulfurreducens selectively through the HA coating, and magnetite core hardly contributed to DIET processes. The SiO2 coating on magnetite resulted in 81% and 89%, respectively, decreases in Re and Rs, mainly because the non-conductive SiO2 layer hindered electron transfer between magnetite core and bacteria. After eight-day incubation with the co-cultures, bare magnetite nanoparticles formed relatively larger and more compact aggregates with cells than Mt-HA and Mt-SiO2, due to the different surface charge between bare and coated Mt. The generation of dissolved Fe(II) and HCl-extractable Fe(II) due to microbial reduction of magnetite by G. metallireducens and vivianite formation were observed along with DIET processes in all DIET experiments. Based on these results, different pathways of electron transfer in defined co-cultures of Geobacters with bare and coated magnetite nanoparticles were proposed. The findings in this study demonstrate the significant effects of surface properties on the ability of magnetite to stimulate DIET, which needs to be considered in order to comprehensively understand the role and mechanisms of mineral-mediated DIET in natural and engineered systems.
The catalytic reactivity of synthetic bare magnetite nanoparticles, activated carbon supported magnetite (AC-Mt), and graphene oxide supported magnetite (GO-Mt) for heterogeneous Fenton-like oxidation of methylene blue (MB) were compared, in order to investigate how the structural features of the support impact catalytic activity of the nanocomposites. The different effects of AC and GO on MB removal rate, hydroxyl radical ([radical dot]OH) production, iron leaching, and surface deactivation have been systematically studied. The rate constant of MB removal by AC-Mt was 0.1161 min-1, one order of magnitude larger than the value of bare magnetite nanoparticles (0.0566 min-1). The higher catalytic activity of AC-Mt might be attributed to the larger reactive surface area of well-dispersed magnetite for [radical dot]OH production and the recharge of the magnetite surface by the AC support via Fe-O-C bonds. However, the removal rate of MB by GO-Mt was one order of magnitude slower than that of bare magnetite nanoparticles under the same experimental conditions, presumably due to the wrapping of GO around magnetite nanoparticles or extensive aggregation of GO-Mt composites. These findings revealed the significant influence of support structure on the catalytic activity of carbon-supported magnetite nanocomposites, which is important for the development of efficient magnetite-based catalysts for wastewater treatments.
The aggregation behavior of 9, 36, and 112 nm hematite particles was studied in the presence of OmcA, a bacterial extracellular protein, in aqueous dispersions at pH 5.7 through time-resolved dynamic light scattering, electrophoretic mobility, and circular dichroism spectra, respectively. At low salt concentration, the attachment efficiencies of hematite particles in all sizes first increased, then decreased, and finally remained stable with the increase of OmcA concentration, indicating the dominant interparticle interaction changed along with the increase in the protein-to-particle ratio. Nevertheless, at high salt concentration, the attachment efficiencies of all hematite samples gradually decreased with increasing OmcA concentration, which can be attributed to increasing steric force. Additionally, the aggregation behavior of OmcA–hematite conjugates was more correlated to total particle–surface area than primary particle size. It was further established that OmcA could stabilize hematite nanoparticles more efficiently than bovine serum albumin (BSA), a model plasma protein, due to the higher affinity of OmcA to hematite surface. This study highlighted the effects of particle properties, solution conditions, and protein properties on the complicated aggregation behavior of protein–nanoparticle conjugates in aqueous environments.
Electrons can be transferred from microorganisms to multivalent metal ions that are associated with minerals and vice versa. As the microbial cell envelope is neither physically permeable to minerals nor electrically conductive, microorganisms have evolved strategies to exchange electrons with extracellular minerals. In this Review, we discuss the molecular mechanisms that underlie the ability of microorganisms to exchange electrons, such as c-type cytochromes and microbial nanowires, with extracellular minerals and with microorganisms of the same or different species. Microorganisms that have extracellular electron transfer capability can be used for biotechnological applications, including bioremediation, biomining and the production of biofuels and nanomaterials.
The initial aggregation kinetics of hematite nanoparticles (NPs) that were conjugated with two model globular proteins—cytochrome c from bovine heart (Cyt) and bovine serum albumin (BSA)—were investigated over a range of monovalent (NaCl) and divalent (CaCl2) electrolyte concentrations at pH 5.7 and 9. The aggregation behavior of Cyt-NP conjugates was similar to that of bare hematite NPs, but the additional electrosteric repulsion increased the critical coagulation concentration (CCC) values from 69 mM to 113 mM in NaCl at pH 5.7. An unsaturated layer of BSA, a protein larger than Cyt, on hematite NPs resulted in fast aggregation at low salt concentrations and pH 5.7, due to the strong attractive patch-charge interaction. However, the BSA-NP conjugates could be stabilized simply by elevating salt concentrations, owing to the screening of the attractive patch-charge force and the increasing contribution from steric force. This study showed that the aggregation state of protein-conjugated NPs is proved to be completely switchable via ionic strength, pH, protein size, and protein coverage. Macroscopic Cu(II) sorption experiments further established that reducing aggregation of hematite NPs via tailoring ionic strength and protein conjugation could promote the metal uptake by hematite NPs under harsh conditions.