Rethinking Sediment Biogeochemistry After the Discovery of Electric Currents

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The discovery of electric currents in marine sediments arose from a simple
observation that conventional biogeochemistry could not explain: Sulfide
oxidation in one place is closely coupled to oxygen reduction in another
place, centimeters away. After experiments demonstrated that this resulted
from electric coupling, the conductors were found to be long, multicellular,
filamentous bacteria, now known as cable bacteria. The spatial separation
of oxidation and reduction processes by these bacteria represents a shortcut
in the conventional cascade of redox processes and may drive most of the
oxygen consumption. In addition, it implies a separation of strong proton
generators and consumers and the formation of measurable electric fields,
which have several effects on mineral development and ion migration. This
article reviews the work on electric currents and cable bacteria published
through April 2014, with an emphasis on general trends, thought-provoking
consequences, and new questions to address.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnual Review of Marine Science
Volume7
Issue1
Pages (from-to)425-442
Number of pages18
ISSN1941-1405
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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