Biological rejuvenation of iron oxides in bioturbated marine sediments

Jacob P. Beam*, Jarrod J. Scott, Sean M. McAllister, Clara S. Chan, James McManus, Filip J.R. Meysman, David Emerson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The biogeochemical cycle of iron is intricately linked to numerous element cycles. Although biological processes that catalyze the reductive side of the iron cycle are established, little is known about microbial oxidative processes on iron cycling in sedimentary environments—resulting in the formation of iron oxides. Here we show that a potential source of sedimentary iron oxides originates from the metabolic activity of iron-oxidizing bacteria from the class Zetaproteobacteria, presumably enhanced by burrowing animals in coastal sediments. Zetaproteobacteria were estimated to be a global total of 1026 cells in coastal, bioturbated sediments, and predicted to annually produce 8 × 1015 g of Fe in sedimentary iron oxides—55 times larger than the annual flux of iron oxides deposited by rivers. These data suggest that iron-oxidizing Zetaproteobacteria are keystone organisms in marine sedimentary environments—despite their low numerical abundance—yet exert a disproportionate impact via the rejuvenation of iron oxides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalThe ISME Journal: multidisciplinary journal of microbial ecology
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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