Microaerophilic Fe(II) oxidizers are commonly found in habitats contain- ing elevated Fe(II) and low O2 concentrations and often produce characteristic Fe mineral structures, so-called twisted stalks or tubular sheaths. Isolates originating from freshwater habitats are all members of the Betaproteobacteria, while isolates from marine habitats belong almost exclusively to the Zetaproteobacteria. So far, only a few isolates of marine microaerophilic Fe(II) oxidizers have been described, all of which are obligate microaerophilic Fe(II) oxidizers and have been thought to be restricted to Fe-rich systems. Here, we present two new isolates of marine microaerophilic Fe(II)-oxidizing Zetaproteobacteria that originate from typical coastal marine sediments containing only low Fe concentrations (2 to 11 mg of total Fe/g of sediment [dry weight]; 70 to 100 μM dissolved Fe2+ in the porewater). The two novel Zetaproteobacteria share characteristic physiological properties of the Zetaproteobacteria group, even though they come from low-Fe environments: the isolates are obligate microaerophilic Fe(II) oxidizers and, like most isolated Zetaproteobacteria, they produce twisted stalks. We found a low organic carbon content in the stalks (0.3 wt%), with mostly polysaccharides and saturated aliphatic chains (most likely lipids). The Fe minerals in the stalks were identified as lepido- crocite and possibly ferrihydrite. Immobilization experiments with Ni2+ showed that the stalks can function as a sink for trace metals. Our findings show that obligate microaerophilic Fe(II) oxidizers belonging to the Zetaproteobacteria group are not restricted to Fe-rich environments but can also be found in low-Fe marine environments, which increases their overall importance for the global biogeochemical Fe cycle.
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