A contemporary microbially maintained subglacial ferrous "Ocean"

Jill A. Mikucki, Ann Pearson, David T. Johnston, Alexandra V. Turchyn, James Farquhar, Daniel P. Schrag, Ariel Anbar, John C. Priscu, Peter A. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

157 Scopus citations

Abstract

An active microbial assemblage cycles sulfur in a sulfate-rich, ancient marine brine beneath Taylor Glacier, an outlet glacier of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, with Fe(III) serving as the terminal electron acceptor. Isotopic measurements of sulfate, water, carbonate, and ferrous iron and functional gene analyses of adenosine 5'-phosphosulfate reductase imply that a microbial consortium facilitates a catalytic sulfur cycle. These metabolic pathways result from a limited organic carbon supply because of the absence of contemporary photosynthesis, yielding a subglacial ferrous brine that is anoxic but not sulfidic. Coupled biogeochemical processes below the glacier enable subglacial microbes to grow in extended isolation, demonstrating how analogous organic-starved systems, such as Neoproterozoic oceans, accumulated Fe(II) despite the presence of an active sulfur cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-400
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume324
Issue number5925
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 17 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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    Mikucki, J. A., Pearson, A., Johnston, D. T., Turchyn, A. V., Farquhar, J., Schrag, D. P., Anbar, A., Priscu, J. C., & Lee, P. A. (2009). A contemporary microbially maintained subglacial ferrous "Ocean". Science, 324(5925), 397-400. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1167350