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      The Biogeochemical Sulfur Cycle of Marine Sediments


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          Microbial dissimilatory sulfate reduction to sulfide is a predominant terminal pathway of organic matter mineralization in the anoxic seabed. Chemical or microbial oxidation of the produced sulfide establishes a complex network of pathways in the sulfur cycle, leading to intermediate sulfur species and partly back to sulfate. The intermediates include elemental sulfur, polysulfides, thiosulfate, and sulfite, which are all substrates for further microbial oxidation, reduction or disproportionation. New microbiological discoveries, such as long-distance electron transfer through sulfide oxidizing cable bacteria, add to the complexity. Isotope exchange reactions play an important role for the stable isotope geochemistry and for the experimental study of sulfur transformations using radiotracers. Microbially catalyzed processes are partly reversible whereby the back-reaction affects our interpretation of radiotracer experiments and provides a mechanism for isotope fractionation. We here review the progress and current status in our understanding of the sulfur cycle in the seabed with respect to its microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, and isotope geochemistry.

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          Most cited references273

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          Early oxidation of organic matter in pelagic sediments of the eastern equatorial Atlantic: suboxic diagenesis

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            Spreading dead zones and consequences for marine ecosystems.

            Dead zones in the coastal oceans have spread exponentially since the 1960s and have serious consequences for ecosystem functioning. The formation of dead zones has been exacerbated by the increase in primary production and consequent worldwide coastal eutrophication fueled by riverine runoff of fertilizers and the burning of fossil fuels. Enhanced primary production results in an accumulation of particulate organic matter, which encourages microbial activity and the consumption of dissolved oxygen in bottom waters. Dead zones have now been reported from more than 400 systems, affecting a total area of more than 245,000 square kilometers, and are probably a key stressor on marine ecosystems.
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              The ecology and biotechnology of sulphate-reducing bacteria.

              Sulphate-reducing bacteria (SRB) are anaerobic microorganisms that use sulphate as a terminal electron acceptor in, for example, the degradation of organic compounds. They are ubiquitous in anoxic habitats, where they have an important role in both the sulphur and carbon cycles. SRB can cause a serious problem for industries, such as the offshore oil industry, because of the production of sulphide, which is highly reactive, corrosive and toxic. However, these organisms can also be beneficial by removing sulphate and heavy metals from waste streams. Although SRB have been studied for more than a century, it is only with the recent emergence of new molecular biological and genomic techniques that we have begun to obtain detailed information on their way of life.

                Author and article information

                Front Microbiol
                Front Microbiol
                Front. Microbiol.
                Frontiers in Microbiology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                24 April 2019
                : 10
                : 849
                Department of Bioscience, Center for Geomicrobiology, Aarhus University , Aarhus, Denmark
                Author notes

                Edited by: Aubrey L. Zerkle, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom

                Reviewed by: William Leavitt, Dartmouth College, United States; Brandy Marie Toner, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, United States

                *Correspondence: Bo Barker Jørgensen, bo.barker@ 123456bios.au.dk

                This article was submitted to Microbiological Chemistry and Geomicrobiology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Microbiology

                Copyright © 2019 Jørgensen, Findlay and Pellerin.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 12 November 2018
                : 02 April 2019
                Page count
                Figures: 10, Tables: 0, Equations: 12, References: 268, Pages: 27, Words: 0
                Funded by: Natur og Univers, Det Frie Forskningsråd 10.13039/100008394

                Microbiology & Virology
                sulfate reduction,sulfide oxidation,sulfur disproportionation,sulfate reducing bacteria,sulfide oxidizing bacteria,stable isotopes,sulfur isotope fractionation


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