Marine Information and Data Acquisition System
Hardwiring the ocean floor [Project info]   [Back]
Hardwiring the ocean floor: the impact of microbial electrical circuitry on biogeochemical cycling in marine sediments Although it is well known that microbial cells can exhibit sophisticated cooperative behaviour, none of the recent advancements in geomicrobiology has been so perplexing as the proposal that microbial populations are capable of fast, electrical communication over centimetre scale distances. This metabolic tour-de-force was recently documented from laboratory incubations with marine sediments. Clearly, the phenomenon is so thought provoking, and its consequences are so far reaching, that independent verification is absolutely needed. Recently, my research group has collected strong evidence that long-distance electron transport is not merely a laboratory phenomenon, but that it effectively happens under in situ conditions in marine sediments. These observations open a broad avenue for new research, since at present, we no understanding of the prevalence of long-distance electron transport in natural environments, let alone, its impact on biogeochemical cycling. In response, this ERC project proposes an in depth investigation into long-distance electron transport in aquatic sediments: when and where does it occur, which redox pathways and microbial players are involved, what is the effective mechanism of electron transfer, and what are its biogeochemical implications. Clearly, this idea of long-distance electron transport would add a whole new dimension to microbial ecology, radically changing our views on microbial cooperation. Yet, the consequences for carbon sequestration and mineral cycling in sediments and soils could even be more astounding, allowing an unprecedented flexibility in redox pathways. Since the same type of extracellular electron transport is at work in engineered systems like microbial fuel cells, it could also improve our understanding of such biotechnological applications.

Cruise Area Start End
14-040 BCP 29 Jan 2014 29 Jan 2014
14-370   26 May 2014 28 May 2014
14-440   23 Jun 2014 23 Jun 2014
14-490   22 Jul 2014 22 Jul 2014
14-681   01 Oct 2014 01 Oct 2014
14-781   07 Nov 2014 07 Nov 2014
14-790   26 Nov 2014 26 Nov 2014
14-840   15 Dec 2014 15 Dec 2014
15-060   23 Feb 2015 23 Feb 2015
15-130   16 Mar 2015 16 Mar 2015
15-330   26 May 2015 28 May 2015
18-520   06 Aug 2018 10 Aug 2018