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Alyssa Jean Lehsau Findlay

Thermodynamics and kinetics of sulfide oxidation by oxygen: A look at inorganically controlled reactions and biologically mediated processes in the environment

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  • George W. Luther, University of Delaware
  • ,
  • Alyssa J. Findlay
  • Daniel J. MacDonald, University of Delaware
  • ,
  • Shannon M. Owings, University of Delaware
  • ,
  • Thomas E. Hanson, University of Delaware
  • ,
  • Roxanne A. Beinart, Harvard University
  • ,
  • Peter R. Girguis, Harvard University

The thermodynamics for the first electron transfer step for sulfide and oxygen indicates that the reaction is unfavorable as unstable superoxide and bisulfide radical ions would need to be produced. However, a two-electron transfer is favorable as stable S(0) and peroxide would be formed, but the partially filled orbitals in oxygen that accept electrons prevent rapid kinetics. Abiotic sulfide oxidation kinetics improve when reduced iron and/or manganese are oxidized by oxygen to form oxidized metals which in turn oxidize sulfide. Biological sulfur oxidation relies on enzymes that have evolved to overcome these kinetic constraints to affect rapid sulfide oxidation. Here we review the available thermodynamic and kinetic data for H2S and HS· as well as O2, reactive oxygen species, nitrate, nitrite, and NOx species. We also present new kinetic data for abiotic sulfide oxidation with oxygen in trace metal clean solutions that constrain abiotic rates of sulfide oxidation in metal free solution and agree with the kinetic and thermodynamic calculations. Moreover, we present experimental data that give insight on rates of chemolithotrophic and photolithotrophic sulfide oxidation in the environment. We demonstrate that both anaerobic photolithotrophic and aerobic chemolithotrophic sulfide oxidation rates are three or more orders of magnitude higher than abiotic rates suggesting that in most environments biotic sulfide oxidation rates will far exceed abiotic rates due to the thermodynamic and kinetic constraints discussed in the first section of the paper. Such data reshape our thinking about the biotic and abiotic contributions to sulfide oxidation in the environment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Abiotic, Biotic, Chemolithotrophy, Chlorobaculum tepidum, Oxidation, Photolithotrophy, Sulfide

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