Marine Biology

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 7–17 | Cite as

Bacterial sulfate reduction within reduced microniches of oxidized marine sediments

  • B. B. Jørgensen


Bacterial sulfate reduction was demonstrated in the oxidized surface layers of a coastal marine sediment using a radiotracer technique. The obligate anaerobic process takes place within reduced sediment pellets of 50 to 200 μm diameter. The H2S produced diffuses out into the interstitial solution and is oxidized before any detectable accumulation takes place. This microniche structure explains the presence of sulfate-reducing (Desulfovibrio spp.) and sulfide oxidizing (Beggiatoa spp.) bacteria and of ferrous sulfide and pyrite in the oxidized sediment. Sulfate reduction was also demonstrated within detrital particles experimentally decomposed in oxic seawater or sediment. The limiting conditions for the maintenance of a reduced microniche within an oxic environment is discussed in terms of a theoretical model.


Sulfide Pyrite Marine Sediment Sulfate Reduction Desulfovibrio 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. American Public Health Association: Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater, 13th ed. 874 pp. Washington: APHA 1971Google Scholar
  2. Baas Becking, L.G.M. and I.R. Kaplan: Biological processes in the estuarine environment. IV. Attempts at interpretation of observed Eh-pH relations of various members of the sulfur cycle. Proc. K. ned. Akad. Wet. (Sect. B) 59, 97–108 (1956)Google Scholar
  3. Berner, R.A.: Electrode studies of hydrogen sulphide in marine sediments. Geochim. cosmochim. Acta 27, 563–575 (1963)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Emery, K.O. and S.C. Rittenberg: Early diagenesis of California basin sediments in relation to origin of ore. Bull. Am. Ass. Petrol. Geol. 36, 735–806 (1952)Google Scholar
  5. Fair, G.M., J.C. Geyr and D.A. Okun: Water and wastewater engineering, Vol 2. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1968Google Scholar
  6. Fenchel, T.: The ecology of marine microbenthos. IV. Structure and function of the benthic ecosystem, its chemical and physical factors and the microfauna communities, with special reference to the ciliated Protozoa. Ophelia 6, 1–182 (1969)Google Scholar
  7. Golterman, H.L. (Ed.): Methods for chemical analysis of fresh waters, 188 pp. IBP Handbook No. 8. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications 1971Google Scholar
  8. —, Hallberg, R.O.: Some factors of significance in the formation of sedimentary metal sulphides. Stockh. Contr. Geol. 15, 39–66 (1968)Google Scholar
  9. Jørgensen, B.B.: The sulfur cycle of a coastal marine sediment (Limfjorden, Denmark). Limnol. Oceanogr. (In press). (1977a)Google Scholar
  10. —: Distribution of colorless sulfur bacteria (Beggiatoa spp.) in a coastal marine sediment. Mar. Biol. 41, 19–28 (1977b)Google Scholar
  11. Jørgensen, B.B. and Y. Cohen: Solar Lake (Sinai). V. The sulfur cycle of the benthic cyanobacteial mats. Limnol. Oceanogr. (In press)Google Scholar
  12. — and T. Fenchel: The sulfur cycle of a marine sediment model system. Mar. Biol. 24, 189–201 (1974)Google Scholar
  13. Kanneworff, E. and W. Nicolaisen: The “Haps”, a frame supported bottom corer. Ophelia 10, 119–128 (1973)Google Scholar
  14. Kaplan, I.R., K.O. Emery and S.C. Rittenberg: The distribution and isotopic abundance of sulfur in recent marine sediments off southern California. Geochim. cosmochim. Acta 27, 297–331 (1963)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Postgate, J.: Sulphate reduction by bacteria. A. Rev. Microbiol. 13, 505–520 (1959)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. —: Media for sulfur bacteria. Lab. Pract. 15, 1239–1244 (1967)Google Scholar
  17. Rhoads, D.C. and D.K. Young: The influence of deposit-feeding organisms on sediment stability and community trophic structure. J. mar. Res. 28, 150–178 (1970)Google Scholar
  18. Teal, T.M. and J. Kanwisher: Gas exchange in a Georgia salt marsh. Limnol. Oceanogr. 6, 388–399 (1961)Google Scholar
  19. Tomlinson, T.G. and D.H.M. Snaddon: Biological oxidation of sewage by films of microorganisms. Int. J. Air Wat. Pollut. 10, 865–881 (1966)Google Scholar
  20. Wakao, N. and C. Furusaka: Presence of microaggregates containing sulfate-reducing bacteria in a paddy field soil. Soil Biol. Biochem. 8, 157–159 (1976)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Whitfield, M.: Eh as an operational parameter in estuarine studies. Limnol. Oceanogr. 14, 547–558 (1969)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. B. Jørgensen
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Ecology and GeneticsUniversity of AarhusAarhusDenmark

Personalised recommendations