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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 15:201-209 (1998)  -  doi:10.3354/ame015201

A H2S microsensor for profiling biofilms and sediments: application in an acidic lake sediment

Michael Kühl1,*, Carsten Steuckart2, Gabriele Eickert1, Paul Jeroschewski2

1Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Microsensor Research Group, Celsiusstr. 1, D-28359 Bremen, Germany
2University of Rostock, Department of Chemistry, Buchbinderstr. 9, D-18055 Rostock, Germany

ABSTRACT: We developed a microsensor for the amperometric detection of dissolved hydrogen sulfide, H2S, in sediments and biofilms. The microsensor exhibits a fast (t90 <0.2 to 0.5 s) and linear response to H2S over a concentration range of 1 to >1000 μmol H2S l-1, and has a low stirring dependency of the microsensor signal (<1 to 2%). We used the new microsensor to obtain the first microprofiles of H2S in an acidic lake sediment with a several cm thick flocculant surface layer. Despite the low pH of 4.6, a relative low SO42- level in the lake water, and a broad O2 respiration zone of ca 6 mm, we were able to measure H2S depth profiles in the sediment at a good resolution, that allowed for calculation of specific sulfate reduction and H2S oxidation activities. Such calculations showed highest sulfate reduction activity in the anoxic sediment down to ca 20 mm depth. A comparison of calculated areal rates of O2 consumption and sulfate reduction indicated that sulfate reduction accounted for up to 13% of total organic carbon mineralization in the acidic sediment. All produced H2S was reoxidized aerobically with O2 at the oxic-anoxic interface. In addition to its good performance in acidic environments, the new H2S microsensor has proven useful for sulfide measurements in neutral and moderate alkaline (pH < 9) biofilms and sediments, and thus is a true alternative to the traditionally used potentiometric Ag/Ag2S microelectrode for most applications in aquatic ecology and biogeochemistry.

KEY WORDS: Microsensor · Hydrogen sulfide · Acidic sediment · Sulfate reduction · Sulfide oxidation · Freshwater

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