First Advisor

Todd Rosenstiel

Date of Publication

Winter 2-22-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology






Biomineralization -- Regulation, Magnetotactic bacteria, Iron bacteria, Sulfate-reducing bacteria, Desulfovibrio



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 91 pages) : illustrations (some color)


Iron is a common cation in biomineral sand; it is present for example in magnetite produced by magnetotactic bacteria and in iron sulfides produced by sulfate reducing microorganisms. The work presented in this thesis focused on two types of microorganisms capable of forming iron biominerals. In the first project I have studied the effect of O2 on the respiratory physiology and the formation of magnetosomes by Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1. In the second project I have studied the relationship between olivine and the activity of dissimilatory sulfate reducing (DSR) microorganisms. For the first project, I grew cells of AMB-1 in cultures with various concentrations of O2 and monitored growth and the formation of magnetic mineral particles (MMP). Results have shown that AMB-1 cells grew better at 100-225 uMO2(aq) than at lower [O2], yet the formation of MMP was repressed at ~45 uM O2(aq) and strongly inhibited at >100 uM O2(aq).These results have helped better understand the dissimilarity between the optimal growth conditions of magnetotactic bacteria and the conditions needed for the formation of MMPs. My results have also shown that the reaction between H2S produced by DSRs and olivine is abiotic, not catalyzed and exergonic. The pH did not vary significantly during this reaction and pH variation (in the 5-9 range) did not significantly influence this chemical reaction. Bicarbonate inhibited the reaction between H2S and olivine, but not the chemical equilibrium. Phosphate, a weak iron chelator, influenced the equilibrium of the reaction and it is assumed to help increase the rate of olivine weathering in the presence of DSRs. The activity of DSRs was positively influenced by the presence and abundance of olivine. Based on my results I propose that olivine help DSR obtain energy more efficiently, but does not represent a source of energy or nutrients for the cells. These results helped better understand the formation of iron biominerals and signatures of this activity.


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