Biogenic Weathering of Mineral Substrates (Review)

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Chizhikova, NP (Chizhikova, Natalia P.), Lessovaia, SN (Lessovaia, Sofia N.), Gorbushina, AA (Gorbushina, Anna A.)


A biological impact on weathering was recognized already at the beginning of the twentieth century, when biochemical influence of the lichen growth on rocks was convincingly demonstrated. Later it was shown that the progress of solid rock weathering initiated by biological colonization was affected by the initial porosity system and sensitivity of mineral association. In the meantime a considerable amount of diverse scientific data confirm the importance of biological rock colonizers (lichens and free-living rock biofilms) in mineral material dynamics as they occur at the atmosphere-exposed rock surfaces on local as well as global scale. Subaerial rock biofilms-microbial ecosystem including free-living heterotrophic and phototrophic settlers of bare rock surfaces-are characteristic for the first stage of primary succession of terrestrial ecosystems on mineral substrates. These cultivable and free-living communities are dominated by fungi and set the stage for the later development of a lichen cover, but in comparison to lichens also represent a new tool for laboratory experimentation and thus open a new stage of work in geomicrobiology. The minerals sensitivity to microbially induced biological weathering can be demonstrated by studies of natural samples as well as by the laboratory mesocosm experiments.