Investigating the effect of ascorbate on the Fe(II)-catalyzed transformation of the poorly crystalline iron mineral ferrihydrite

Publication date: August 2018
Source:Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – General Subjects, Volume 1862, Issue 8
Author(s): Wei Xiao, Adele M. Jones, Richard N. Collins, T. David Waite
The inorganic core of the iron storage protein, ferritin, is recognized as being analogous to the poorly crystalline iron mineral, ferrihydrite (Fh). Fh is also abundant in soils where it is central to the redox cycling of particular soil contaminants and trace elements. In geochemical circles, it is recognized that Fh can undergo Fe(II)-catalyzed transformation to form more crystalline iron minerals, vastly altering the reactivity of the iron oxide and, in some cases, the redox poise of the system. Of relevance to both geochemical and biological systems, we investigate here if the naturally occurring reducing agent, ascorbate, can effect such an Fe(II)-catalyzed transformation of Fh at 25 °C and circumneutral pH. The transformation of ferrihydrite to possible secondary Fe(III) mineralization products was quantified using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, with supporting data obtained using X-ray absorbance spectroscopy (XAS) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). Whilst the amount of Fe(II) formed in the presence of ascorbate has resulted in Fh transformation in previous studies, no transformation of Fh to more crystalline Fe(III) (oxyhydr)oxides was observed in this study. Further experiments indicated this was due to the ability of ascorbate to inhibit the formation of goethite, lepidocrocite and magnetite. The manner in which ascorbate associated with Fh was investigated using FTIR and total organic carbon (TOC) analysis. The majority of ascorbate was found to adsorb to the Fh surface under anoxic conditions but, under oxic conditions, ascorbate was initially adsorbed then became incorporated within the Fe(III) (oxyhydr)oxide structure (i.e., co-precipitated) over time.

Graphical abstract