Fragmentation of Bacteriogenic Iron Oxides in Response to Hydrodynamic Shear Stress
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2015

A viscous shear stress of 1.97 Nm2 was applied to suspensions of freshwater, brackish and marine bacteriogenic iron oxides (BIOS) in shake flasks. Samples were taken at intervals over 480 minutes for scanning electron microscopy. The remains of three Fe2+-oxidizing bacteria (FeOB) genera were conspicuous biomass constituents in the BIOS samples; these included the filamentous extracellular sheaths of Leptothrix, as well as helical fibrous stalks of Gallionella and Mariprofundus. The applied hydrodynamic shear stress resulted in an exponential decrease in Leptothrix sheath and Gallionella-Mariprofundus stalk lengths; first-order breakage rate constants derived from the experimental measurements ranged from 0.009 to 0.023 min−1 and 0.014 to 0.021 min��1, respectively. Breakage half-times extended from 30 to 70 min. Shear strength values calculated from the time course data ranged from 27.8 to 29.6 Nm−2 for Leptothrix sheaths, and from 28.0 to 28.8 Nm−2 for Gallionella-Mariprofundus stalks. Computational analyses showed that breakage half-times decreased rapidly with increasing shear stress, implying that the accumulation of BIOS is constrained hydrodynamically to quiescent aqueous environments. These results imply that there is considerable potential for natural hydrodynamic fluctuations in basal shear stress levels to bring about resuspension and advective dispersal of BIOS. Immediate consequences anticipated from such events include enhanced particulate transport of BIOS-associated chemical species through aquatic systems, as well as reduced preservation potential and underrepresentation of BIOS bacteria structures as microfossils in the geological record.

shear stress



bacterial iron oxides


F. G. Ferris

University of Toronto

R. E. James

University of Toronto

Karsten Pedersen

Chalmers, Bygg- och miljöteknik, Geologi och geoteknik

Geomicrobiology Journal

0149-0451 (ISSN) 1521-0529 (eISSN)

Vol. 32 7 564-569


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