Phototrophic Fe(II) oxidation in an atmosphere of H2: implications for Archean banded iron formations


  • Authors Croal and Jiao contributed equally to this work.

Corresponding author: Dianne K. Newman, Tel.: 617-324-2770; fax: 617-324-3972; e-mail:


The effect of hydrogen on the rate of phototrophic Fe(II) oxidation by two species of purple bacteria was measured at two different bicarbonate concentrations. Hydrogen slowed Fe(II) oxidation to varying degrees depending on the bicarbonate concentration, but even the slowest rate of Fe(II) oxidation remained on the same order of magnitude as that estimated to have been necessary to deposit the Hamersley banded iron formations. Given the hydrogen and bicarbonate concentrations inferred for the Archean, our data suggest that Fe(II) phototrophy could have been a viable process at this time.