Research Topic

The microbial ferrous wheel: iron cycling in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine environments

About this Research Topic

In the past 15 years, there has been steady growth in work relating to the microbial iron cycle. It is now well established that in anaerobic environments coupling of organic matter utilization to Fe reduction is a major pathway for anaerobic respiration. In iron-rich circumneutral environments that exist at ...

In the past 15 years, there has been steady growth in work relating to the microbial iron cycle. It is now well established that in anaerobic environments coupling of organic matter utilization to Fe reduction is a major pathway for anaerobic respiration. In iron-rich circumneutral environments that exist at oxic-anoxic boundaries, significant progress has been made in demonstrating that unique groups of microbes can grow either aerobically or anaerobically using Fe as a primary energy source. Likewise, in high iron acidic environments, progress has been made in the study of communities of microbes that oxidize iron, and in understanding the details of how certain of these organisms gain energy from Fe-oxidation. On the iron scarcity side, it is now appreciated that in large areas of the open ocean Fe is a key limiting nutrient; thus, a great deal of research is going into understanding the strategies microbial cells, principally phytoplankton, use to acquire iron, and how the iron cycle may impact other nutrient cycles. Finally, due to its abundance, iron has played an important role in the evolution of Earth’s primary biogeochemical cycles through time.

The aim of this Research Topic is to gather contributions from scientists working in diverse disciplines who have common interests in iron cycling at the process level, and at the organismal level, both from the perspective of Fe as an energy source, or as a limiting nutrient for primary productivity in the ocean. The range of disciplines may include: geomicrobiologists, microbial ecologists, microbial physiologists, biological oceanographers, and biogeochemists. Articles can be original research, techniques, reviews, or synthesis papers. An overarching goal is to demonstrate the environmental breadth of the iron cycle, and foster understanding between different scientific communities who may not always be aware of one another’s work.

Suggested Topics:
- Microbial Fe oxidation at neutral and acidic pH
- Microbial Fe reduction
- Ecosystem coupling of Fe-oxidation and reduction
- Iron availability in nutrient limited environments (or iron as a limiting nutrient in marine ecosystems)
- Cellular iron acquisition strategies of environmental importance
- Advanced techniques for studying iron biogeochemistry
- Paleo-microbiology of Fe-cycling


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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