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Metal-enrichment in microbial carbonates: the role of carboxylated biomacromolecules Open Access


Other title
Carboxyl, microbial mats, microbialites, metal complexation, carbonates
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Petrash, Daniel Alejandro
Supervisor and department
Konhauser, Kurt (Earth Sciences)
Examining committee member and department
Brian Lanoil (Biological Sciences)
Murray K. Gingras (Earth Sciences)
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
Carboxylated macromolecules such as alginate and glycoproteins are abundant components of modern shallow marine sediments where they are secreted by bacteria and marine infauna. Both organic compounds are proton and metal reactive; hence, they have the potential to facilitate metal sorption and biomineralization reactions. In this study, lab experiments were coupled to field-based sampling to assess the role that these compounds play in microbial mats, with particular emphasis on the hypersaline lagoons of Los Roques, Venezuela. Here I applied a surface complexation approach to model proton and Cd adsorption behaviour of both uronic acid-rich alginate and mucin. Measured total site concentrations, available for metal adsorption, demonstrate that these compounds have the potential to induce metal partitioning in early diagenetic microenvironments. Field results from Venezuela are consistent with Mg- and trace metal- enrichment that follows a likely correlation with the degradation states of microbial biomass trapped during accretion of modern microbialites.
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