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Microbial sulfate reduction and organic sulfur formation in sinking marine particles

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Science  08 Jan 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6525, pp. 178-181
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc6035

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Where they can't breathe

Climate warming is causing the expansion of marine oxygen-deficient zones, which are regions in which dissolved oxygen concentrations are so low that many marine animals cannot survive. This phenomenon also might affect the global cycles of carbon, sulfur, nitrogen, and trace metals in the oceans. Raven et al. show how ocean anoxia affects microbial sulfur processing in sinking marine particles. They observed cryptic microbial sulfate reduction, which forms organic sulfur that is resistant to acid hydrolysis, a process that could enhance carbon preservation in sediments underlying oxygen-deficient water columns. This may help explain some of the more extreme episodes of organic carbon preservation associated with marine anoxia in Earth's history.

Science, this issue p. 178

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