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Title: Assembly and Succession of Iron Oxide Microbial Mat Communities in Acidic Geothermal Springs

Iron oxide microbial mats are ubiquitous geobiological features on Earth and occur in extant acidic hot springs of Yellowstone National Park (YNP), WY, USA, and form as a result of microbial processes. The relative contribution of different organisms to the development of these mat ecosystems is of specific interest. We hypothesized that chemolithoautotrophic organisms contribute to the early development and production of Fe(III)-oxide mats, which could support later-colonizing heterotrophic microorganisms. Sterile glass slides were incubated in the outflow channels of two acidic geothermal springs in YNP, and spatiotemporal changes in Fe(III)-oxide accretion and abundance of relevant community members were measured. Lithoautotrophic Hydrogenobaculum spp. were first colonizers and the most abundant taxa identified during early successional stages (7 – 40 days). Populations of M. yellowstonensis colonized after ~ 7 days, corresponding to visible Fe(III)-oxide accretion. Heterotrophic archaea colonized after 30 days, and emerge as the dominant functional guild in mature iron oxide mats (1 – 2 cm thick) that form after 70 – 120 days. First-order rate constants of iron oxide accretion ranged from 0.05 – 0.046 day-1, and reflected the absolute amount of iron accreted. Micro- and macroscale microterracettes were identified during iron oxide mat development, and suggest that themore » mass transfer of oxygen limits microbial growth. This was also demonstrated using microelectrode measurements of oxygen as a function of mat depth, which showed steep gradients in oxygen from the aqueous mat interface to ~ 1 mm. The formation and succession of amorphous Fe(III)-oxide mat communities follows a predictable pattern of distinct stages and growth. The successional stages and microbial signatures observed in these extant Fe(III)-oxide mat communities may be relevant to other past or present Fe(III)-oxide mineralizing systems.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1664-302X
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Frontiers in Microbiology; Journal Volume: 7
Frontiers Research Foundation
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
iron oxide; microbial mat; acidic geothermal