Geobiochemistry of metabolism: Standard state thermodynamic properties of the citric acid cycle

Peter A. Canovas, Everett Shock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Integrating microbial metabolism into geochemical modeling allows assessments of energy and mass transfer between the geosphere and the microbial biosphere. Energy and power supplies and demands can be assessed from analytical geochemical data given thermodynamic data for compounds involved in catabolism and anabolism. Results are reported here from a critique of the available standard state thermodynamic data for organic acids and acid anions involved in the citric acid cycle (also known as the tricarboxylic acid cycle or the Krebs cycle). The development of methods for estimating standard state data unavailable from experiments is described, together with methods to predict corresponding values at elevated temperatures and pressures using the revised Helgeson–Kirkham–Flowers (HKF) equation of state for aqueous species. Internal consistency is maintained with standard state thermodynamic data for organic and inorganic aqueous species commonly used in geochemical modeling efforts. Standard state data and revised-HKF parameters are used to predict equilibrium dissociation constants for the organic acids in the citric acid cycle, and to assess standard Gibbs energies of reactions for each step in the cycle at elevated temperatures and pressures. The results presented here can be used with analytical data from natural and experimental systems to assess the energy and power demands of microorganisms throughout the habitable ranges of pressure and temperature, and to assess the consequences of abiotic organic compound alteration processes at conditions of subsurface aquifers, sedimentary basins, hydrothermal systems, meteorite parent bodies, and ocean worlds throughout the solar system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-322
Number of pages30
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
StatePublished - Dec 15 2016


  • Bioenergetics
  • Citric acid cycle
  • Geobiochemistry
  • Geobiology
  • Metabolism
  • Standard state thermodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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