Gronstal, A.; Pearson, V.; Kappler, A.; Dooris, C.; Anand, M.; Poitrasson, F.; Kee, T. P. and Cockell, C. S.
Laboratory experiments on the weathering of iron meteorites and carbonaceous chondrites by iron-oxidizing bacteria.
Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 44(2) pp. 233–247.
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Batch culture experiments were performed to investigate the weathering of meteoritic material by iron-oxidizing bacteria. The aerobic, acidophilic iron oxidizer (A. ferrooxidans) was capable of oxidizing iron from both carbonaceous chondrites (Murchison and Cold Bokkeveld) and
iron meteorites (York and Casas Grandes). Preliminary iron isotope results clearly show contrasted iron pathways during oxidation with and without bacteria suggesting that a biological role in meteorite weathering could be distinguished isotopically. Anaerobic iron-oxidizers growing under pH-neutral conditions oxidized iron from iron meteorites. These results show that rapid biologically mediated alteration of extraterrestrial materials can occur in both aerobic and anaerobic environments. These results also demonstrate that iron can act as a source of energy for
microorganisms from both iron and carbonaceous chondrites in aerobic and anaerobic conditions with implications for life on the early Earth and the possible use of microorganisms to extract minerals from asteroidal material.
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