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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Iron isotope biosignatures.

The (56)Fe/(54)Fe of Fe-bearing phases precipitated in sedimentary environments varies by 2.5 per mil (delta(56)Fe values of +0.9 to -1. 6 per mil). In contrast, the (56)Fe/(54)Fe of Fe-bearing phases in igneous rocks from Earth and the moon does not vary measurably (delta(56)Fe = 0.0 +/- 0.3 per mil). Experiments with dissimilatory Fe-reducing bacteria of the genus Shewanella algae grown on a ferrihydrite substrate indicate that the delta(56)Fe of ferrous Fe in solution is isotopically lighter than the ferrihydrite substrate by 1.3 per mil. Therefore, the range in delta(56)Fe values of sedimentary rocks may reflect biogenic fractionation, and the isotopic composition of Fe may be used to trace the distribution of microorganisms in modern and ancient Earth.[1]


  1. Iron isotope biosignatures. Beard, B.L., Johnson, C.M., Cox, L., Sun, H., Nealson, K.H., Aguilar, C. Science (1999) [Pubmed]
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