Long Range Correlation in Redox Potential Fluctuations Signals Energetic Efficiency of Bacterial Fe(II) Oxidation

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-40499-5. This is version 2 of this Preprint.

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Allison Enright, Brock Edwards, Grant Ferris


Differentiating biotic and abiotic processes in nature remains a persistent challenge, specifically in evaluating microbial contributions to geochemical processes through time. Building on previous work reporting that biologically-influenced systems exhibit stronger long-range correlation than abiotic systems, this study evaluated the relationship between long-range correlation of redox potential
and oxidation rates of circumneutral microaerophilic bacterial Fe(II) oxidation using a series of batch microcosms with bacteriogenic iron oxides (BIOS). Initial detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA) scaling exponents of the abiotic microcosms were lower (ca. 1.20) than those of the biotic microcosms (ca. 1.80). As Fe(II) oxidation proceeded, correlation strength decayed as a logistic function of elapsed reaction time, exhibiting direct dependence on the free energy of reaction. Correlation strength for all microcosms decayed sharply from strong correlation to uncorrelated fluctuations. The decay rates are greater for abiotic microcosms than biotic microcosms. The ΔGm relaxation edges for biotic microcosms were lower, indicating less remaining free energy for Fe(II) oxidation than abiotic systems, with the implication that biologically-catalyzed reactions are likely more energetically efficient than abiotic reactions. These results strengthen the case for employing novel DFA techniques to distinguish in situ microbial metabolic activity from abiotic processes, as well as to potentially differentiate metabolisms among different chemoautotrophs.




Biogeochemistry, Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


biogeochemistry, astrobiology, Fe(II)-oxidation, microbial iron oxidation


Published: 2019-02-21 16:38

Last Updated: 2019-05-09 15:17

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