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Rapid pyritization in the presence of a sulfur/sulfate-reducing bacterial consortium

Abstract : Sedimentary pyrite (feS 2) is commonly thought to be a product of microbial sulfate reduction and hence may preserve biosignatures. However, proof that microorganisms are involved in pyrite formation is still lacking as only metastable iron sulfides are usually obtained in laboratory cultures. Here we show the rapid formation of large pyrite spherules through the sulfidation of Fe(III)-phosphate (FP) in the presence of a consortium of sulfur-and sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), Desulfovibrio and Sulfurospirillum, enriched from ferruginous and phosphate-rich Lake Pavin water. In biomineralization experiments inoculated with this consortium, pyrite formation occurred within only 3 weeks, likely enhanced by the local enrichment of polysulfides around SRB cells. During this same time frame, abiotic reaction of FP with sulfide led to the formation of vivianite (Fe 3 (po 4) 2 ·8H 2 o) and mackinawite (feS) only. our results suggest that rates of pyritization vs. vivianite formation are regulated by SRB activity at the cellular scale, which enhances phosphate release into the aqueous phase by increased efficiency of iron sulfide precipitation, and thus that these microorganisms strongly influence biological productivity and Fe, S and P cycles in the environment.
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Jasmine Berg, Arnaud Duverger, Laure Cordier, Christel Laberty-Robert, François Guyot, et al.. Rapid pyritization in the presence of a sulfur/sulfate-reducing bacterial consortium. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2019, ⟨10.1038/s41598-020-64990-6⟩. ⟨insu-02886231⟩

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