Influence of pH and inorganic phosphate on toxicity of zinc to Arthrobacter sp. isolated from heavy-metal-contaminated sediments
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Because of its high solubility over a wide range of pH conditions, zinc is found in many natural and human-impacted systems. Zinc speciation is critical in assessing zinc toxicity to microorganisms because it varies considerably with pH and is dependent on other aqueous constituents. Combined results of thermodynamic modeling, statistical analysis, and batch culture studies using Arthrobacter sp. JM018 suggest that the toxic species may not be solely limited to the free ion, but also includes ZnHPO40(aq). Cellular uptake of ZnHPO40(aq) through the inorganic phosphate transporter (Pit family), which requires a neutral metal phosphate complex for phosphate transport, may explain the observed toxicity. Based on visual MINTEQ (v3.0) modeling, at 50 Î¼M total zinc, ZnHPO40(aq) constitutes 33, 70, and 76% of the neutral metal phosphate pool at pH 6, 7, and 8, respectively. At 50 Î¼M total zinc, cultures supplied with organic phosphate (glycerol-3-phosphate) show no significant response to pH (p=0.13) while inhibition of inorganic phosphate-supplemented cultures, whose neutral metal phosphates are increasingly dominated by ZnHPO40(aq), show significant pH dependence (p=9.45 x 10-7). Using sodium to decrease the distribution of ZnHPO40(aq) in the neutral metal phosphate pool also decreased the pH dependent toxicity, further supporting this mechanism.These findings show the important role of minor zinc species in organism toxicity and have wider implications because the Pit inorganic phosphate transport system is widely distributed in Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya.
Moberly JG, Staven A, Sani RK, Peyton BM, "Influence of pH and inorganic phosphate on toxicity of zinc to Arthrobacter sp. isolated from heavy-metal-contaminated sediments," Environ Sci Technol, 2010 44(19):7302-7308.