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Mariprofundus ferrooxydans is an Fe-oxidizing bacterium that gains it energy through the oxidation of ferrous to ferric iron, this results in the precipitation of iron-oxyhdroxides (rust) that is coordinated in such a way by the cell to produce a biomineralized stalk. It is an autotroph. M. ferrooxydans belongs to the Zetaproteobacteria, a novel class in the phylum Proteobacteria. These bacteria are found almost exclusively at marine sites where an abundant source of ferrous iron is present. These include exposed steel surfaces, some salt marsh sediments, and hydrothermal vents. In the latter habitat they can form microbial mats a meter or more thick that are composed largely of iron oxyhyroxides. In the ancient past, it is thought these bacteria may have played a role in major biogeochemical transformations of iron that led to the iron ore deposits we depend upon for modern steel production.