About this Research Topic
Studies that couple microbiology with stable isotope geochemistry have informed interpretations of microbial sulfur cycling in modern and past environments. Laboratory-based studies and models of MSR have sought to understand the physiological and environmental controls of the magnitude of sulfur isotope fractionation. The fractionations of stable sulfur and oxygen isotopes during MSR are also used to track enzymatic activity during MSR and processes that oxidize sulfide in the presence of environmental oxidants. Outstanding questions in the field concern the importance of oxidative processes within the natural environment, the delivery of oxidants and carbon sources to the zones of sulfate reduction and the ability to detect or reconstruct oxidative processes from the chemical, isotopic, metagenomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomics profiles in the environment.
Recent studies have emphasized the complex connections between sulfur and methane, iron, nitrogen and other elements. These links may involve the redox cycling of species that occur at concentrations difficult to detect by standard geochemical techniques or that are cycled at very rapid rates (cryptic cycles). Of particular interest is the use of isotope geochemistry to quantify links among various electron acceptors, including sulfate, ferric iron, and nitrate, during the anaerobic methane oxidation. For example, recent geochemical measurements have hinted that microbial sulfate reduction coupled to organic matter oxidation is mechanistically different to when sulfate reduction is coupled to methane oxidation. Recent studies have also suggested a possible contribution of a number of previously uncultured microbial groups in sulfur cycling in sulfidic environments, inspiring further studies of these organisms and their partnerships in anaerobic environments.
This Research Topic hopes to highlight studies of microbial interactions, processes and communities that couple the sulfur cycle to the cycles of other elements in aphotic environments. Contributions are encouraged that describe genomic and metabolic characteristics of microbial communities that cycle sulfur and other elements (e.g. iron, manganese, or nitrogen) outside of the photic zone of anaerobic or suboxic environments, identify relationships between environmental conditions and microbial groups and processes, investigate the resilience of the coupled cycles to perturbation and quantify the geochemical signatures of different couplings.
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.