Oxidation–Reduction Phenomena

Authored by: Bruce R. James , Dominic A. Brose

Handbook of Soil Sciences Properties and Processes

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  November  2011

Print ISBN: 9781439803059
eBook ISBN: 9781439803066
Adobe ISBN:


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Electrons are subatomic particles with wave-like properties that have defied exact characterization since their discovery in 1897, despite their central role in chemical reactions (Castellan, 1983). Electrons are considered fundamental subatomic particles, but recent findings suggest that they may possess a substructure of leptoquarks, that electron orbitals do not exist, and that the role of electrons in predicting periodicity of the elements is only approximate (Scerri, 1997). In addition, new frontiers are expanding to explain electron-transfer processes at interfaces (Tributsch and Pohlmann, 1998). Studying and understanding electron-transfer processes in soils, therefore, is challenging and must be based on sources of information from relatively simple aqueous systems and natural waters, as well as on a large base of empirical studies using soils. Electron-transfer processes in microbial cells are central to nutrient and pollutant chemical reactions, especially oxidation state changes governed by intra- and extracellular enzymes (Paul, 2007). Recent developments in environmental microbiology have found that bacteria form biofilms almost ubiquitously in aqueous and colloidal environments, such as natural waters, soils, and the human body (Stoodley et al., 2004). Therefore, understanding the role of microbes in controlling redox processes in soils requires an appreciation of such “matrix enclosed accretions that adhere to biological and nonbiological surfaces” (Stoodley et al., 2004).

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