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Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 2007      Biogeochemistry of Fe(II) oxidation in a photosynthetic microbial mat: Implications for Precambrian Fe(II) oxidation
Robert E. Trouwborst, Anne Johnston, Gretchen Koch, George W. Luther III, Beverly K. Pierson
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 2007

We studied the role of microbial photosynthesis in the oxidation of Fe(II) to Fe(III) in a high Fe(II) and high Mn(II) hot spring devoid of sulfide and atmospheric oxygen in the source waters. In situ light and dark microelectrode measurements of Fe(II), Mn(II) and O2 were made in the microbial mat consisting of cyanobacteria and anoxygenic photosynthetic Chloroflexus sp. We show that Fe(II) oxidation occurred when the mat was exposed to varying intensities of sunlight but not near infrared light. We did not observe any Mn(II) oxidation under any light or dark condition over the pH range 5–7. We observed the impact of oxygenic photosynthesis on Fe(II) oxidation, distinct from the influence of atmospheric O2 and anoxygenic photosynthesis. In situ Fe(II) oxidation rates in the mats and cell suspensions exposed to light are consistent with abiotic oxidation by O2. The oxidation of Fe(II) to form primary Fe(III) phases contributed to banded iron-formations (BIFs) during the Precambrian. Both oxygenic photosynthesis, which produces O2 as an oxidizing waste product, and anoxygenic photosynthesis in which Fe(II) is used to fix CO2 have been proposed as Fe(II) oxidation mechanisms. Although we do not know the specific mechanisms responsible for all Precambrian Fe(II) oxidation, we assessed the relative importance of both mechanisms in this modern hot spring environment. In this environment, cyanobacterial oxygen production accounted for all the observed Fe(II) oxidation. The rate data indicate that a modest population of cyanobacteria could have mediated sufficient Fe(II) oxidation for some BIFs.

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