Microbiological Controls on Geochemical Kinetics 1: Fundamentals and Case Study on Microbial Fe(III) Oxide Reduction

  • Eric E. Roden

The pervasive influence of microorganisms (abbreviated hereafter as “morgs”; see Table 8.1 for a list of abbreviations) on the geochemistry of low-temperature environments is well-recognized and has been the subject of voluminous experimental and observational research (Banfield and Nealson, 1997; Brezonik, 1994; Canfield et al., 2005; Chapelle, 2001; Ehrlich, 2002; Lovley, 2000b). Many of the foundational insights into the role of morgs as agents of geochemical reaction can be traced to basic discoveries in microbiology which took place in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Perhaps the most important contribution of all was Louis Pasteur’s definitive demonstration that decomposition of OM does not proceed in the absence of living morgs (Pasteur, 1860). Though not made in the context of geochemistry, his decisive defeat of the theory of spontaneous generation was a key step toward recognizing the role of microbial life as a direct agent of chemical transformation in natural, medical, and industrial settings. A long series of discoveries followed in which the participation of morgs in various aspects of elemental cycling and mineral transformation was revealed, many in the context of soil and aquatic microbiology (Clarke, 1985; Ehrlich, 2002; Gorham, 1991). These early discoveries, together with developments in the fields of general microbiology and biochemistry (e.g., as embodied in Kluyver (1957)’s synthesis of unity and diversity in microbial metabolism) laid the groundwork for our current understanding of microbial metabolism based on principles of biochemical energetics (thermodynamics) and enzymatic reaction kinetics.


Oxide Reduction Reductive Dissolution Microbial Reduction Wetland Sediment Magnetotactic Bacterium 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric E. Roden
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geology and GeophysicsUniversity of WisconsinUSA

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