Biogeochemical Cycling

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

27 Scopus citations


All of the major elements found in biological organisms are cycled in a predictable manner, and taken together the various element cycles are known as the biogeochemical cycles. This chapter describes the microbial activities that drive biogeochemical cycling, and that are highly relevant to the field of environmental microbiology. It also documents the impact of human activities on these cycles. The cycling of four major elements is discussed: carbon, nitrogen, sulfur and iron. For carbon, the transfer of carbon dioxide to organic carbon via both plants and microorganisms is reviewed, as well as respiration of organic carbon back to carbon dioxide. For nitrogen, the microbial transformations of nitrogen gas to ammonia and then organic forms of nitrogen are identified, as well as subsequent oxidation to nitrate, and finally reduction back to nitrogen gas or nitrous oxide. In the case of sulfur and iron, microbial oxidation and reduction cycles are outlined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Microbiology
Subtitle of host publicationThird Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages35
ISBN (Print)9780123946263
StatePublished - 2015


  • Biogeochemical cycling
  • Carbon cycle
  • Denitrification
  • Gaia hypothesis
  • Iron cycle
  • Methanogenesis
  • Nitrification
  • Nitrogen cycle
  • Sulfur cycle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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