Silicates, Silicate Weathering, and Microbial Ecology

Silicates, Silicate Weathering, and Microbial Ecology

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  • November 26, 2018
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Mineralogy, microbial ecology, and mineral weathering in the subsurface are an intimately linked biogeochemical system. Although bacteria have been implicated indirectly in the accelerated weathering of minerals, it is not clear if this interaction is simply the coincidental result of microbial metabolism, or if it represents a specific strategy offering the colonizing bacteria a competitive ecological advantage. Our studies provide evidence that silicate weathering by bacteria is sometimes driven by the nutrient requirements of the microbial consortium, and therefore depends on the trace nutrient content of each aquifer mineral. This occurrence was observed in reducing groundwaters where carbon is abundant but phosphate is scarce; here, even resistant feldspars are weathered rapidly. This suggests that the progression of mineral weathering may be influenced by a mineral’s nutritional potential, with microorganisms …

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