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We propose a model that shows rapid iron snow formation, and ultimately energy transfer from the photic zone to deeper water layers, is controlled via a chemically mediated interplay.

Comparative metabolomics approach and structure elucidation led to the identification of bacterial extracellular exudates that function as allelopathic aggregate-inducing signal.

These results clearly show that even during the very limited time of passage through the water column, interspecies chemical interactions between key organisms in iron snow enable these microorganisms to adhere to and colonize the particles.

Amendment of Acidithrix supernatant to motile cells of Acidiphilium triggered formation of cell aggregates displaying similar morphology to those of iron snow.

Comparative metabolomics enabled the identification of the aggregation-inducing signal, 2-phenethylamine, which also induced faster growth of Acidiphilium.

These pelagic aggregates provide a niche for microbes that can exploit these physical structures and resources for growth, thus are local hot spots for microbial activity.

However, processes underlying their formation remain unknown.

The lake water was collected and stored at 4 to inhibit the growth of Fungi.

Bacterial growth was checked during incubation at room temperature in the dark.

These aggregates, also called marine or lake snow, typically range in size from millimeters to centimeters (Alldredge and Silver, 1988; Passow et al., 2012) and are held together by extracellular polysaccharides (Thornton, 2002; Giani et al., 2005; Passow et al., 2012).

Marine and lake snow contribute substantially to the energy transfer from the photic zone to deeper water layers (Suess, 1980).

Phylogenetic analyses and identification of the isolates were carried out by genomic DNA extraction and 16S r RNA gene sequencing.