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Science (New York, N.Y.)

Global rates of marine sulfate reduction and implications for sub-sea-floor metabolic activities.


PMID 24812207

Abstract

Sulfate reduction is a globally important redox process in marine sediments, yet global rates are poorly quantified. We developed an artificial neural network trained with 199 sulfate profiles, constrained with geomorphological and geochemical maps to estimate global sulfate-reduction rate distributions. Globally, 11.3 teramoles of sulfate are reduced yearly (~15% of previous estimates), accounting for the oxidation of 12 to 29% of the organic carbon flux to the sea floor. Combined with global cell distributions in marine sediments, these results indicate a strong contrast in sub-sea-floor prokaryote habitats: In continental margins, global cell numbers in sulfate-depleted sediment exceed those in the overlying sulfate-bearing sediment by one order of magnitude, whereas in the abyss, most life occurs in oxic and/or sulfate-reducing sediments.

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