Do cyanobacteria cause structural and chemical changes to mineral surfaces?

D Kapitulcinova, CS Cockell, KR Hallam, TJ McMaster, KV Ragnarsdottir

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


All organisms require a number of essential elements for life. However, many of these elements, including phosphorus, sulphur, potassium, magnesium, iron and trace metals, are mostly fixed in the lithosphere and released from minerals in the process of weathering. Apart from chemical and physical weathering, biological weathering brought about by plants and microorganisms plays a substantial role in the release of the essential elements from minerals into the environment. It has been shown that heterotrophic bacteria inhabiting rocks and soils are able to actively dissolve minerals containing essential nutrients, e.g. apatite, feldspars or micas. Nonetheless, there exist no studies investigating dissolution of such minerals by autotrophic photosynthesising bacteria, cyanobacteria. Although many researchers have concluded that cyanobacteria have a direct effect on rock disintegration, it remains unclear whether cyanobacteria actively extract nutrients from minerals resulting in mineral dissolution, or whether the disintegration is merely a side effect of the cyanobacterial presence on mineral surfaces.
Translated title of the contributionDo cyanobacteria cause structural and chemical changes to mineral surfaces?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication17th Symposium of the International Association for Cyanophyte Research, Merida, Mexico
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2007

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