Chapter 4 : Microbe-Metal Interactions on Seafloor Basalts

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This chapter considers mineral-microbe interactions at and below the ocean floor, the epilithic and endolithic microorganisms harbored in rock habitats in the dark ocean, and metal and redox cycling at rock and mineral surfaces. It discusses empirical studies on materials retrieved from the seafloor and subseafloor. The chapter talks about new research frontiers using novel in situ microbial observatories for time-series experiments in these environments. Laboratory and field studies have also indicated that alteration of rocks and minerals in the deep sea is connected to carbon fixation, and thereby dark ocean primary production. The chapter reviews recent insights into dark ocean mineral-mineral microbe interactions, principally as associated with potentially largest endolithic surface on Earth: seafloor and subseafloor basalt. Experimental lines of research on alteration and weathering of the igneous ocean crust conducted in recent years both at and below the seafloor are discussed. The chapter offers insights into new means for directly assessing the role of microbes in metal cycling and rock alteration. The ability to oxidize Fe(II) is shared across multiple proteobacterial lineages, including representatives from α-,ү- and ε-proteobacteria, possibly indicating horizontal gene transfer of this ability, or perhaps hinting at the possibility that iron oxidation is an ancestral trait within the . The recently developed new strategies for conducting time-series studies and conducting active experimentation at and below the seafloor can offer powerful means for studying these remote systems, and offer broad and extensive research results in scientific advancement.

Citation: Sylvan J, Turner A, Edwards K. 2011. Microbe-Metal Interactions on Seafloor Basalts, p 65-76. In Stolz J, Oremland R (ed), Microbial Metal and Metalloid Metabolism. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817190.ch4
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