Iron is the fourth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and is potentially one of the most abundant energy sources on Earth. Deep sea hydrothermal vents deposit iron oxides into the oceans annually. Several decades ago, the first hints of unusual microbial communities associated with iron oxides at seamounts came from samples collected by deep sea submersible. This project focuses on iron-oxidizing bacteria from microbial iron mats from deep-sea hydrothermal vents, microbially induced biocorrosion products, and deep subsurface crustal fluids. Most of them belong to a novel class called Zetaproteobacteria. As iron-oxidizing bacteria are known to be destructive agents causing biofouling and corrosion, or potentially beneficial agents in biofiltration and bioremediation systems, the ability to detect specific populations would be of use to environmental engineers and scientists.
PI: David Emerson