Redox processes along gradients
FOR 580 KNOFrom 06/2009 to 12/2012
Principal Investigator: Klaus-Holger Knorr
Staff: Zhiguo Yu, Stefan Peiffer
Grant: FOR 580 PEI/1 Research Group etrap
The relevance of biogeochemical gradients for turnover of organic matter and contaminants is yet poorly understood. This study aims at the identification and quantification of the interaction of different redox processes along gradients. The interaction of iron-, and sulfate reduction and methanogenesis will be studied in controlled batch and column experiments. Factors constraining the accessibility and the energy yield from the use of these electron acceptors will be evaluated, such as passivation of iron oxides, re-oxidation of hydrogen sulfide on iron oxides. The impact of these constraints on the competitiveness of the particular process will then be described. Special focus will be put on the evolution of methanogenic conditions in systems formerly characterized by iron and sulfate reducing condition. As methanogenic conditions mostly evolve from micro-niches, methods to study the existence, evolution and stability of such micro-niches will be established. To this end, a combination of Gibbs’ free energy calculations, isotope fractionation and tracer measurements, and mass balances of metabolic intermediates (small pool sizes) and end products (large pool sizes) will be used. Measurements of these parameters on different scales using microelectrodes (mm scale), micro sampling devices for solutes and gases (cm scale) and mass flow balancing (column/reactor scale) will be compared to characterize unit volumes for organic matter degradation pathways and electron flow. Of particular interest will be the impact of redox active humic substances on the competitiveness of involved terminal electron accepting processes, either acting as electron shuttles or directly providing electron accepting capacity. This will be studied using fluorescence spectroscopy and parallel factor analysis (PARAFAC) of the gained spectra. We expect that the results will provide a basis for improving reactive transport models of anaerobic processes in aquifers and sediments.