Mineral Stimulation of Subsurface Microorganisms: Release of Limiting Nutrients from Silicates

Mineral Stimulation of Subsurface Microorganisms: Release of Limiting Nutrients from Silicates

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  • November 26, 2018
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Microorganisms play an important role in the weathering of silicate minerals in many subsurface environments, but an unanswered question is whether the mineral plays an important role in the microbial ecology. Silicate minerals often contain nutrients necessary for microbial growth, but whether the microbial community benefits from their release during weathering is unclear. In this study, we used field and laboratory approaches to investigate microbial interactions with minerals and glasses containing beneficial nutrients and metals. Field experiments from a petroleum-contaminated aquifer, where silicate weathering is substantially accelerated in the contaminated zone, revealed that phosphorus (P) and iron (Fe)-bearing silicate glasses were preferentially colonized and weathered, while glasses without these elements were typically barren of colonizing microorganisms, corroborating previous studies using …

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