A review of spectroscopic methods for characterizing microbial transformations of minerals
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Over the past decade, advances in surface-sensitive spectroscopic techniques have provided the opportunity to identify many new microbiologically mediated biogeochemical processes. Although a number of surface spectroscopic techniques require samples to be dehydrated, which precludes real-time measurement of biotransformations and generate solid phase artifacts, some now offer the opportunity to either isolate a hydrated sample within an ultrahigh vacuum during analysis or utilize sources of radiation that efficiently penetrate hydrated specimens. Other nondestructive surface spectroscopic techniques permit determination of the influence of microbiological processes on the kinetics and thermodynamics of geochemical reactions. The ability to perform surface chemical analyses at micrometer and nanometer scales has led to the realization that bacterial cell surfaces are active sites of mineral nucleation and propagation, resulting in the formation of both stable and transient small-scale surface chemical heterogeneities. Some surface spectroscopic instrumentation is now being modified for use in the field to permit researchers to evaluate mineral biotransformations under in situ conditions. Surface spectroscopic techniques are thus offering a variety of opportunities to yield new information on the way in which microorganisms have influenced geochemical processes on Earth over the last 4 billion years.
Geesey, G.G., A. L. Neal, P. A. Suci, B. M. Peyton, "A Review of Spectroscopic Methods for Characterizing Microbial Transformations of Minerals," Journal of Microbiological Methods, 51(2):1 (2002).