• shareshare
  • link
  • cite
  • add
Other research product . 2018

Long-distance electron transport occurs globally in marine sediments

Burdorf, Laurine D. W.; Tramper, Anton; Seitaj, Dorina; Meire, Lorenz; Hidalgo-Martinez, Silvia; Zetsche, Eva-Maria; Boschker, Henricus T. S.; +1 Authors
Open Access
Published: 27 Sep 2018

Recently, long filamentous bacteria have been reported conducting electrons over centimetre distances in marine sediments. These so-called cable bacteria perform an electrogenic form of sulfur oxidation, whereby long-distance electron transport links sulfide oxidation in deeper sediment horizons to oxygen reduction in the upper millimetres of the sediment. Electrogenic sulfur oxidation exerts a strong impact on the local sediment biogeochemistry, but it is currently unknown how prevalent the process is within the seafloor. Here we provide a state-of-the-art assessment of its global distribution by combining new field observations with previous reports from the literature. This synthesis demonstrates that electrogenic sulfur oxidation, and hence microbial long-distance electron transport, is a widespread phenomenon in the present-day seafloor. The process is found in coastal sediments within different climate zones (off the Netherlands, Greenland, the USA, Australia) and thrives on a range of different coastal habitats (estuaries, salt marshes, mangroves, coastal hypoxic basins, intertidal flats). The combination of a widespread occurrence and a strong local geochemical imprint suggests that electrogenic sulfur oxidation could be an important, and hitherto overlooked, component of the marine cycle of carbon, sulfur and other elements.

57 references, page 1 of 6

Baco, A. R., Rowden, A. A., Levin, L. A., Smith, C. R., and Bowden, D. A.: Initial characterization of cold seep faunal communities on the New Zealand Hikurangi margin, Mar. Geol., 272, 251-259, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2009.06.015, 2010.

Bergfeld, C.: Macrofaunal community pattern in an intertidal sandflat: Effects of organic enrichment via biodeposition by mussel beds, First results, Senckenberg, Maritima, 29, 23-27, doi:10.1007/BF03043114, 1999. [OpenAIRE]

Bjerg, J. T., Damgaard, L. R., Holm, S. A., Schramm, A., and Nielsen, L. P.: Motility of Electric Cable Bacteria, Appl. Environ. Microb., 82, 3816-3821, doi:10.1128/AEM.01038-16, 2016.

Breslin, V. T., Sañudo-Wilhelmy, S. A., and Sanudo-Wilhelmy, S. A.: High Spatial Resolution Sampling of Metals in the Sediment and Water Column in Port Jefferson Harbor, New York, Estuaries, 22, 669-680, doi:10.2307/1353054, 1999. [OpenAIRE]

Burdorf, L. D. W., Hidalgo-Martinez, S., Cook, P. L. M., and Meysman, F. J. R.: Long-distance electron transport by cable bacteria in mangrove sediments, Mar. Ecol.-Prog. Ser., 545, 1- 8, doi:10.3354/meps11635, 2016.

Canfield, D. E., Jørgensen, B. B., Fossing, H., Glud, R., Gundersen, J., Ramsing, N. B., Thamdrup, B., Hansen, J. W., Nielsen, L. P., and Hall, P. O. J.: Pathways of organic carbon oxidation in three continental margin sediments, Mar. Geol., 113, 27-40, doi:10.1016/0025-3227(93)90147-N, 1993. [OpenAIRE]

Ciutat, A., Widdows, J., and Readman, J. W.: Influence of cockle Cerastoderma edule bioturbation and tidal-current cycles on resuspension of sediment and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Mar. Ecol.-Prog. Ser., 328, 51-64, doi:10.3354/meps328051, 2006. [OpenAIRE]

Cuomo, C., Cochran, J. K., and Turekian, K. K.: Geochemistry of the Long Island Sound Estuary, in Long Island Sound, edited by: Latimer, J. S., Tedesco, M. A., Swanson, R. L., Yarish, C., Stacey, P. E., and Garza, C., 159-201, Springer New York, USA, 2014.

Damgaard, L. R., Risgaard-Petersen, N., and Nielsen, L. P.: Electric potential microelectrode for studies of electrobiogeophysics, J. Geophys. Res.-Biogeo., 119, 1906-1917, doi:10.1002/2014JG002665, 2014. [OpenAIRE]

Diaz, R. J. and Rosenberg, R.: Spreading Dead Zones and Consequences for Marine Ecosystems, Science, 321, 926-929, doi:10.1126/science.1156401, 2008.

Funded by
Hardwiring the ocean floor: the impact of microbial electrical circuitry on biogeochemical cycling in marine sediments
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 306933
  • Funding stream: FP7 | SP2 | ERC
Related to Research communities
European Marine Science Marine Environmental Science : Hardwiring the ocean floor: the impact of microbial electrical circuitry on biogeochemical cycling in marine sediments
Download from