November 10, 2017
Here’s a closer view of the sulfur bacteria in action. See also the post of October 21, 2014, which explains where the sulfur comes from.
November 9, 2017
Another element that associates with bacteria in water the way iron does is sulfur. The evidence in Ohio’s Vermilion River is more rare than the evidence for iron bacteria (shown in yesterday’s post), but it was there last month.
January 10, 2017
On New Year’s Day David and I went to South Lido Park, perhaps my favorite park around Sarasota. It has such a variety of things to love with the camera. One of the lagoons there showed considerable evidence of the sulfur bacteria. This is not surprising since the water in Sarasota—even coming out of the tap—contains quite a bit of sulfur. When I started coming to Florida 12 years or so ago, I had to drink bottled water—either that or keep the tap water in the refrigerator to kill off the taste. Now I drink water from the faucet without thinking about it; it’s just water to me. I also see signs of sulfur bacteria in Ohio’s Vermilion River but not in such profusion or so often as I do here in Florida. Sulfur bacteria, like the iron bacteria, are chemolithotrophs: they energize their life processes with inorganic compounds in a process of respiration. (This is why my book about the iron bacteria is called They Breathe Iron. If I had written a book about the sulfur bacteria, I might have titled it “They Breathe Sulfur.”)
July 25, 2016
On the other side of the river I found some evidence of sulfur bacteria in the water. It was in about the same place I found traces of sulfur bacteria in October 2014. The second photograph is a detail of the first.
July 11, 2016
Probably most people would not include the photos in this week’s post under a Home Sweet Home title. However . . . Yesterday I walked around the grounds of our new place and found some lovely bacteria. I could detect what they were doing before I saw the results. The filamentous white stuff is the product of one or more sulfur-oxidizing bacteria, and I could smell the SO2. I found sulfur-oxidizing bacteria in the Vermilion River in September 2014. The pink bits here are young root shoots. The second and third photos are crops from the first photograph.
Update of July 14, 2016
Today I showed these photos to my mentor, Norrie Robbins. Here’s what she had to say: “You lucky—a sulfur cycle! Watch during the year: does it abate in the winter (does the groundwater become oxygenated?). . . The strings are [produced by] Thiothrix (they have holdfasts). If you just see a white biofilm, it is [created by] Beggiatoa (under the scope they move around). In your image I think I see a little purple (purple sulfur oxidizers are strict anaerobes and need sunlight).”
October 21, 2014
I saw something at the edge of the river Saturday, September 27, that I’d never seen before. Checking my hunch with Norrie Robbins, my knowledge source for all things microbial, I learned that this white threadlike formation is evidence of sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. The black stuff around the edges shows the presence of sulfur-reducing bacteria. Since the shale in this area is replete with pyrite (fool’s gold), and pyrite is made of iron and sulfur, it should not have been a surprise.