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The reversibility of dissimilatory sulphate reduction and the cell-internal multi-step reduction of sulphite to sulphide: insights from the oxygen isotope composition of sulphate

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Brunner,  B.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Arnold,  G. L.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Mueller,  I.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Brunner, B., Einsiedl, F., Arnold, G. L., Mueller, I., Templer, S., & Bernasconi, S. M. (2012). The reversibility of dissimilatory sulphate reduction and the cell-internal multi-step reduction of sulphite to sulphide: insights from the oxygen isotope composition of sulphate. Isotopes in Environmental and Health Studies, 48(1 Sp. Iss. SI), 33-54.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-C8B1-5
Abstract
Dissimilatory sulphate reduction (DSR) leads to an overprint of the oxygen isotope composition of sulphate by the oxygen isotope composition of water. This overprint is assumed to occur via cell-internally formed sulphuroxy intermediates in the sulphate reduction pathway. Unlike sulphate, the sulphuroxy intermediates can readily exchange oxygen isotopes with water. Subsequent to the oxygen isotope exchange, these intermediates, e.g. sulphite, are re-oxidised by reversible enzymatic reactions to sulphate, thereby incorporating the oxygen used for the re-oxidation of the sulphur intermediates. Consequently, the rate and expression of DSR-mediated oxygen isotope exchange between sulphate and water depend not only on the oxygen isotope exchange between sulphuroxy intermediates and water, but also on cell-internal forward and backward reactions. The latter are the very same processes that control the extent of sulphur isotope fractionation expressed by DSR. Recently, the measurement of multiple sulphur isotope fractionation has successfully been applied to obtain information on the reversibility of individual enzymatically catalysed steps in DSR. Similarly, the oxygen isotope signature of sulphate has the potential to reveal complementary information on the reversibility of DSR. The aim of this work is to assess this potential. We derived a mathematical model that links sulphur and oxygen isotope effects by DSR, assuming that oxygen isotope effects observed in the oxygen isotopic composition of ambient sulphate are controlled by the oxygen isotope exchange between sulphite and water and the successive cell-internal oxidation of sulphite back to sulphate. Our model predicts rapid DSR-mediated oxygen isotope exchange for cases where the sulphur isotope fractionation is large and slow exchange for cases where the sulphur isotope fractionation is small. Our model also demonstrates that different DSR-mediated oxygen isotope equilibrium values are observed, depending on the importance of oxygen isotope exchange between sulphite and water relative to the re-oxidation of sulphite. Comparison of model results to experimental data further leads to the conclusion that sulphur isotope fractionation in the reduction of sulphite to sulphide is not a single-step process.