Release of fluoride from Quaternary sediments produces F-contaminated groundwater which threatens the health of millions of people worldwide. Despite the mechanisms of fluoride release from sediments are documented by numerous studies, it remains poorly understood that whether indigenous microbes participate in or not for the formation of F-rich groundwater by releasing fluoride from aquifer sediments. A microcosm-based approach, geochemistry and techniques of microbiology and molecular ecology were conducted together to investigate these mechanisms. Results show that microbes are abundant in high [F] groundwater containing at least 1129 operational taxonomic units (OTUs), and indigenous microbes can have an essential role in the mobilization of fluoride in sediments collected from aquifers in a typical fluorosis area in China. It also shows that for the sediments in this study, fluoride release (ca. 2 mg/L) is coupled with elevated concentrations of Ca (- = 75 mg/L), Mg (- = 33 mg/L), Al (- = 0.2 mg/L) and Mn (- = 1.4 mg/L). This suggests that the fluoride may source from the dissolution of F-bearing carbonate minerals and/or Al-Mn hydroxides in a local acidic environment. The findings provide additional insights into the biogeochemical circulation of fluoride in natural environment, especially in groundwater system and the development of effective strategies for the management of F-contaminated groundwater worldwide.
*Original abstract online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31185346