Sulfur and oxygen isotope study of sulfate reduction in experiments with natural populations from Fællestrand, Denmark

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This study investigates the sulfur and oxygen isotope fractionations of dissimilatory sulfate reduction and works to reconcile the relationships between the oxygen and sulfur isotopic and elemental systems. We report results of experiments with natural populations of sulfate-reducing bacteria using sediment and seawater from a marine lagoon at Fællestrand on the northern shore of the island of Fyn, Denmark. The experiments yielded relatively large magnitude sulfur isotope fractionations for dissimilatory sulfate reduction (up to approximately 45‰ for 34S/32S) with higher δ18O accompanying higher δ34S, similar to that observed in previous studies. The seawater used in the experiments was spiked by addition of 17O-labeled water and the 17O content of residual sulfate was found to depend on the fraction of sulfate reduced in the experiments. The 17O data provides evidence for recycling of sulfur from metabolic intermediates and for an 18O/16O fractionation of ∼25-30‰ for dissimilatory sulfate reduction. The close correlation between the 17O data and the sulfur isotope data suggests that isotopic exchange between cell water and external water (reactor water) was rapid under experimental conditions. The molar ratio of oxygen exchange to sulfate reduction was found to be about 2.5. This value is slightly lower than observed in studies of natural ecosystems [e.g., Wortmann U. G., Chernyavsky B., Bernasconi S. M., Brunner B., Böttcher M. E. and Swart P. K. (2007) Oxygen isotope biogeochemistry of pore water sulfate in the deep biosphere: dominance of isotope exchange reactions with ambient water during microbial sulfate reduction (ODP Site 1130). Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 71, 4221-4232]. Using recent models of sulfur isotope fractionations we find that our combined sulfur and oxygen isotopic data places constraints on the proportion of sulfate recycled to the medium (78-96%), the proportion of sulfur intermediate sulfite that was recycled by way of APS to sulfate and released back to the external sulfate pool (∼70%), and also that a fraction of the sulfur intermediates between sulfite and sulfide were recycled to sulfate. These parameters can be constrained because of the independent information provided by δ18O, δ34S, δ17O labels, and Δ33S. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta

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