Insights into Autotrophic Activities and Carbon Flow in Iron-Rich Pelagic Aggregates (Iron Snow).

Li Q, Cooper RE, Wegner CE, Taubert M, Jehmlich N, von Bergen M, Küsel K2021Insights into Autotrophic Activities and Carbon Flow in Iron-Rich Pelagic Aggregates (Iron Snow). Microorganisms 9,


Pelagic aggregates function as biological carbon pumps for transporting fixed organic carbon to sediments. In iron-rich (ferruginous) lakes, photoferrotrophic and chemolithoautotrophic bacteria contribute to CO2 fixation by oxidizing reduced iron, leading to the formation of iron-rich pelagic aggregates (iron snow). The significance of iron oxidizers in carbon fixation, their general role in iron snow functioning and the flow of carbon within iron snow is still unclear. Here, we combined a two-year metatranscriptome analysis of iron snow collected from an acidic lake with protein-based stable isotope probing to determine general metabolic activities and to trace 13CO2 incorporation in iron snow over time under oxic and anoxic conditions. mRNA-derived metatranscriptome of iron snow identified four key players (Leptospirillum, Ferrovum, Acidithrix, Acidiphilium) with relative abundances (59.6-85.7%) encoding ecologically relevant pathways, including carbon fixation and polysaccharide biosynthesis. No transcriptional activity for carbon fixation from archaea or eukaryotes was detected. 13CO2 incorporation studies identified active chemolithoautotroph Ferrovum under both conditions. Only 1.0-5.3% relative 13C abundances were found in heterotrophic Acidiphilium and Acidocella under oxic conditions. These data show that iron oxidizers play an important role in CO2 fixation, but the majority of fixed C will be directly transported to the sediment without feeding heterotrophs in the water column in acidic ferruginous lakes.


Doctoral researchers

Dr. rer. nat. Qianqian Li

Dr. rer. nat. Qianqian Li

Chemical communication between bacteria in iron-rich lake aggregates

Friedrich Schiller University Jena

Aquatic Geomicrobiology