Methanogens predominate in natural corrosion protective layers on metal sheet piles.

Nardy Kip, S. Jansen, M.F.A. Leite, M. De Hollander, M. Afanasyev, E.E. Kuramae, J.A. van Veen (Corresponding author)

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Microorganisms are able to cause, but also to inhibit or protect against corrosion. Corrosion inhibition by microbial processes may be due to the formation of mineral deposition layers on metal objects. Such deposition layers have been found in archaeological studies on ancient metal objects, buried in soil, which were hardly corroded. Recent field investigations showed that natural mineral deposition layers can be found on sheet piles in soil. We investigated the microbial communities of these deposition layers and the adjacent soil. Our data, from five different sampling sites, all show striking differences between microbial communities of the deposition layer versus the adjacent soil over the depth profile. Bacterial species dominated in top soil while archaeal sequences increased in abundance with depth. All mineral deposition layers from the steel surface were dominated by Euryarchaeota, of which almost all sequences were phylogenetically related with the Methanobacteria genus. The mineral layer consisted of carbonate precipitates. Based on 16S rDNA gene sequencing data we hypothesize that the methanogens directly extract electrons from the metal surface, thereby, initially inducing mild corrosion, but simultaneously, inducing carbonate precipitation. This, will cause encrustation of the archaea, which drastically slow down their activity and create a natural protective layer against further corrosion.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11899
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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