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Sulfate reduction and sulfide oxidation in extremely steep salinity gradients formed by freshwater springs emerging into the Dead Sea

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Hausler,  S.
Permanent Research Group Microsensor, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Weber,  Miriam
Permanent Research Group Microsensor, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Holtappels,  M.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Noriega-Ortega,  B.
ICBM MPI Bridging Group for Marine Geochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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De Beer,  D.
Permanent Research Group Microsensor, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Ionescu,  D.
Permanent Research Group Microsensor, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Hausler, S., Weber, M., Siebert, C., Holtappels, M., Noriega-Ortega, B., De Beer, D., et al. (2014). Sulfate reduction and sulfide oxidation in extremely steep salinity gradients formed by freshwater springs emerging into the Dead Sea. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 90(3): 1, pp. 956-969.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-C4C8-0
Abstract
Abundant microbial mats, recently discovered in underwater freshwater springs in the hypersaline Dead Sea, are mostly dominated by sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. We investigated the source of sulfide and the activity of these communities. Isotopic analysis of sulfide and sulfate in the spring water showed a fractionation of 39-50 parts per thousand indicative of active sulfate reduction. Sulfate reduction rates (SRR) in the spring sediment (< 2.8 nmol cm(-3) day(-1)) are too low to account for the measured sulfide flux. Thus, sulfide from the springs, locally reduced salinity and O-2 from the Dead Sea water are responsible for the abundant microbial biomass around the springs. The springs flow is highly variable and accordingly the local salinities. We speculate that the development of microbial mats dominated by either Sulfurimonas/Sulfurovum-like or Thiobacillus/Acidithiobacillus-like sulfide-oxidizing bacteria, results from different mean salinities in the microenvironment of the mats. SRR of up to 10 nmol cm(-3) day(-1) detected in the Dead Sea sediment are surprisingly higher than in the less saline springs. While this shows the presence of an extremely halophilic sulfate-reducing bacteria community in the Dead Sea sediments, it also suggests that extensive salinity fluctuations limit these communities in the springs due to increased energetic demands for osmoregulation.