This project will define the microbial processes and species responsible for oxidation of ferrous iron (where the iron ion shares two of its electrons) and consequent weathering of iron-containing mineral aggregates. Understanding the link between the rates of oxidation and the presence of specific microbial community composition allow geoscientists to better understand susceptibility and rates of chemical weathering of iron-bearing minerals.
The investigators will use state-of-the-art high throughput sequencing approaches to hunt for relevant genes in and reconstruct microbial genomes from three natural environments, including one in the Central Sands area of Wisconsin.
Mineral weathering plays a fundamental role in soil formation, with attendant impacts on agriculture and other applied aspects of soil science. This project will provide the first comprehensive microbiome-style analysis of microbial communities associated with chemical weathering in terrestrial environments.