Geobiological investigations using secondary ion mass spectrometry: microanalysis of extant and paleo-microbial processes

Authors


V. J. Orphan. Tel.: (626) 395-786; fax: (626) 683-0621; e-mail: vorphan@gps.caltech.edu C. H. House. Tel.: (814) 865-8802; fax: (814) 863-7823; e-mail: chrishouse@psu.edu

Abstract

The application of secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) has tremendous value for the field of geobiology, representing a powerful tool for identifying the specific role of micro-organisms in biogeochemical cycles. In this review, we highlight a number of diverse applications for SIMS and nanoSIMS in geobiological research. SIMS performs isotope and elemental analysis at microscale enabling the investigation of the physiology of individual microbes within complex communities. Additionally, through the study of isotopic or chemical characteristics that are common in both living and ancient microbial communities, SIMS allows for direct comparisons of potential biosignatures derived from extant microbial cells and their fossil equivalents.

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