Evidence of connections between microbial activity and the Earth’s biogeochemical cycles is all around us, and motivates our interest in the mechanisms of microbial transformations, their rates, and the distribution of microbial activities across environment types and over Earth history. In general, the approach to investigating a geomicrobiological process begins with biological and geochemical characterization of the environment of interest. Geochemical characteristics constrain available metabolisms (e.g., McCollom and Shock 1997) and patterns can reveal processes not recognized initially to be microbially mediated.

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The membership of microbial communities can be assayed through cultivation and cultivation-independent methods. However, this task is...

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