Research ArticleGEOCHEMISTRY

Large sulfur isotope fractionation by bacterial sulfide oxidation

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Science Advances  24 Jul 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 7, eaaw1480
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw1480


A sulfide-oxidizing microorganism, Desulfurivibrio alkaliphilus (DA), generates a consistent enrichment of sulfur-34 (34S) in the produced sulfate of +12.5 per mil or greater. This observation challenges the general consensus that the microbial oxidation of sulfide does not result in large 34S enrichments and suggests that sedimentary sulfides and sulfates may be influenced by metabolic activity associated with sulfide oxidation. Since the DA-type sulfide oxidation pathway is ubiquitous in sediments, in the modern environment, and throughout Earth history, the enrichments and depletions in 34S in sediments may be the combined result of three microbial metabolisms: microbial sulfate reduction, the disproportionation of external sulfur intermediates, and microbial sulfide oxidation.

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