A case study for late Archean and Proterozoic biogeochemical iron- and sulphur cycling in a modern habitatthe Arvadi Spring

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DOI

  • Elif Koeksoy, Univ Tubingen, Eberhard Karls University of Tubingen, Ctr Appl Geosci ZAG, Geomicrobiol Grp
  • ,
  • Maximilian Halama, Univ Tubingen, Eberhard Karls University of Tubingen, Ctr Appl Geosci ZAG, Geomicrobiol Grp
  • ,
  • Nikolas Hagemann, Univ Tubingen, Eberhard Karls University of Tubingen, Ctr Appl Geosci ZAG, Geomicrobiol Grp
  • ,
  • Pascal R. Weigold, Univ Tubingen, Eberhard Karls University of Tubingen, Ctr Appl Geosci ZAG, Geomicrobiol Grp
  • ,
  • Katja Laufer
  • Sara Kleindienst, Univ Tubingen, Eberhard Karls University of Tubingen, Ctr Appl Geosci ZAG, Geomicrobiol Grp
  • ,
  • James M. Byrne, Univ Tubingen, Eberhard Karls University of Tubingen, Ctr Appl Geosci ZAG, Geomicrobiol Grp
  • ,
  • Anneli Sundman, Univ Tubingen, Eberhard Karls University of Tubingen, Ctr Appl Geosci ZAG, Geomicrobiol Grp
  • ,
  • Kurt Hanselmann, ETH Zuerich, ETH Zurich, Inst Geol
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  • Itay Halevy, Weizmann Inst Sci, Weizmann Institute of Science, Dept Earth & Planetary Sci
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  • Ronny Schoenberg, Univ Tubingen, Eberhard Karls University of Tubingen, Isotope Geochem
  • ,
  • Kurt O. Konhauser, Univ Alberta, University of Alberta, Dept Earth & Atmospher Sci
  • ,
  • Andreas Kappler

As a consequence of Earth's surface oxygenation, ocean geochemistry changed from ferruginous (iron(II)-rich) into more complex ferro-euxinic (iron(II)-sulphide-rich) conditions during the Paleoproterozoic. This transition must have had profound implications for the Proterozoic microbial community that existed within the ocean water and bottom sediment; in particular, iron-oxidizing bacteria likely had to compete with emerging sulphur-metabolizers. However, the nature of their coexistence and interaction remains speculative. Here, we present geochemical and microbiological data from the Arvadi Spring in the eastern Swiss Alps, a modern model habitat for ferro-euxinic transition zones in late Archean and Proterozoic oceans during high-oxygen intervals, which enables us to reconstruct the microbial community structure in respective settings for this geological era. The spring water is oxygen-saturated but still contains relatively elevated concentrations of dissolved iron(II) (17.2 +/- 2.8M) and sulphide (2.5 +/- 0.2M) with simultaneously high concentrations of sulphate (8.3 +/- 0.04mM). Solids consisting of quartz, calcite, dolomite and iron(III) oxyhydroxide minerals as well as sulphur-containing particles, presumably elemental S-0, cover the spring sediment. Cultivation-based most probable number counts revealed microaerophilic iron(II)-oxidizers and sulphide-oxidizers to represent the largest fraction of iron- and sulphur-metabolizers in the spring, coexisting with less abundant iron(III)-reducers, sulphate-reducers and phototrophic and nitrate-reducing iron(II)-oxidizers. 16S rRNA gene 454 pyrosequencing showed sulphide-oxidizing Thiothrix species to be the dominating genus, supporting the results from our cultivation-based assessment. Collectively, our results suggest that anaerobic and microaerophilic iron- and sulphur-metabolizers could have coexisted in oxygenated ferro-sulphidic transition zones of late Archean and Proterozoic oceans, where they would have sustained continuous cycling of iron and sulphur compounds.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGeobiology
Volume16
Issue4
Pages (from-to)353-368
Number of pages16
ISSN1472-4677
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

    Research areas

  • Fe-S cycles, Fe-S microbial community, mineralized alpine spring, BILLION YEARS AGO, NATURAL-WATERS, OCEAN ANALOG, MOSSBAUER-SPECTROSCOPY, FERRUGINOUS CONDITIONS, ATMOSPHERIC OXYGEN, PRECAMBRIAN OCEANS, HYDROGEN-SULFIDE, FE-II, OXIDATION

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