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Speleology in Kazakhstan

Shakalov on 04 Jul, 2018
Hello everyone!   I pleased to invite you to the official site of Central Asian Karstic-Speleological commission ("Kaspeko")   There, we regularly publish reports about our expeditions, articles and reports on speleotopics, lecture course for instructors, photos etc. ...

Speleology in Kazakhstan

Shakalov on 04 Jul, 2018
Hello everyone!   I pleased to invite you to the official site of Central Asian Karstic-Speleological commission ("Kaspeko")   There, we regularly publish reports about our expeditions, articles and reports on speleotopics, lecture course for instructors, photos etc. ...

Speleology in Kazakhstan

Shakalov on 11 Jul, 2012
Hello everyone!   I pleased to invite you to the official site of Central Asian Karstic-Speleological commission ("Kaspeko")   There, we regularly publish reports about our expeditions, articles and reports on speleotopics, lecture course for instructors, photos etc. ...

New publications on hypogene speleogenesis

Klimchouk on 26 Mar, 2012
Dear Colleagues, This is to draw your attention to several recent publications added to KarstBase, relevant to hypogenic karst/speleogenesis: Corrosion of limestone tablets in sulfidic ground-water: measurements and speleogenetic implications Galdenzi,

The deepest terrestrial animal

Klimchouk on 23 Feb, 2012
A recent publication of Spanish researchers describes the biology of Krubera Cave, including the deepest terrestrial animal ever found: Jordana, Rafael; Baquero, Enrique; Reboleira, Sofía and Sendra, Alberto. ...

Caves - landscapes without light

akop on 05 Feb, 2012
Exhibition dedicated to caves is taking place in the Vienna Natural History Museum   The exhibition at the Natural History Museum presents the surprising variety of caves and cave formations such as stalactites and various crystals. ...

Did you know?

That leakage factor is the factor describing leakage flow into or out of a leaky aquifer [16].?

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Featured articles from Cave & Karst Science Journals
Chemistry and Karst, White, William B.
Engineering challenges in Karst, Stevanović, Zoran; Milanović, Petar
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Geochemical and mineralogical fingerprints to distinguish the exploited ferruginous mineralisations of Grotta della Monaca (Calabria, Italy), Dimuccio, L.A.; Rodrigues, N.; Larocca, F.; Pratas, J.; Amado, A.M.; Batista de Carvalho, L.A.
Karst environment, Culver D.C.
Mushroom Speleothems: Stromatolites That Formed in the Absence of Phototrophs, Bontognali, Tomaso R.R.; D’Angeli Ilenia M.; Tisato, Nicola; Vasconcelos, Crisogono; Bernasconi, Stefano M.; Gonzales, Esteban R. G.; De Waele, Jo
Calculating flux to predict future cave radon concentrations, Rowberry, Matt; Marti, Xavi; Frontera, Carlos; Van De Wiel, Marco; Briestensky, Milos
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Your search for biofilm (Keyword) returned 42 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 1 to 15 of 42
Sulfate reducing bacteria in microbial mats: Changing paradigms, new discoveries, 0000, Baumgartner Lk, Reid Rp, Dupraz C, Decho Aw, Buckley Dh, Spear Jr, Przekop Km, Visscher Pt,
Sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB) have existed throughout much of Earth's history and remain major contributors to carbon cycling in modern systems. Despite their importance, misconceptions about SRB are prevalent. In particular, SRB are commonly thought to lack oxygen tolerance and to exist only in anoxic environments. Through the last two decades, researchers have discovered that SRB can, in fact, tolerate and even respire oxygen. Investigations of microbial mat systems have demonstrated that SRB are both abundant and active in the oxic zones of mats. Additionally, SRB have been found to be highly active in the lithified zones of microbial mats, suggesting a connection between sulfate reduction and mat lithification. In the present paper, we review recent research on SRB distribution and present new preliminary findings on both the diversity and distribution of [delta]-proteobacterial SRB in lithifying and non-lithifying microbial mat systems. These preliminary findings indicate the unexplored diversity of SRB in a microbial mat system and demonstrate the close microspatial association of SRB and cyanobacteria in the oxic zone of the mat. Possible mechanisms and further studies to elucidate mechanisms for carbonate precipitation via sulfate reduction are also discussed

PROCESSES ASSOCIATED WITH MICROBIAL BIOFILMS IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE OF CAVES - EXAMPLES FROM THE CAYMAN ISLANDS, 1995, Jones B. ,
The twilight zone of a cave, an environment transitional between the well-illuminated environment outside the cave and the dark environment of the cave interior, is one of the most unusual microenvironments of the karst terrain. Walls in the twilight zone of caves on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac are coated with a biofilm that incorporates a diverse assemblage of epilithic microbes and copious mucus. Most microbes are different from those found elsewhere in the karst terrains of the Cayman Islands, probably because they have adapted to life in the poorly illuminated twilight zone. None of the microbes employ an endolithic life mode, and less than 10% of them show evidence of calcification. The biofilm does, however, provide a medium in which a broad spectrum of destructive and constructive processes operate. Etching, the dominant destructive process, produces residual dolomite, residual calcite, blocky calcite, and spiky calcite. Constructive processes include precipitation of calcite, dolomite, gypsum, halite, and sylvite. Although filamentous microbes are common, examples of detrital grains trapped and bound to the substrate are rare. Destructive processes are more common than constructive ones

Processes associated with microbial biofilms in the twilight zone of caves; examples from the Cayman Islands, 1995, Jones Brian,

Microbiological processes at the cave development and karstification, 1997, Benjamin Menne B.
The process of karstification can be regarded as part of the carbon-cycle of the earth. The assumption that microorganisms could play a role at the Speleogenesis was repeated in the past. To a guest extent, these considerations have been intensively contradicted. Microbiological sediment researches in European caves led however to new cognitions. The possible role of microorganisms at the karstification is represented with the models of the "Carbonatolyse" and "Bioconservation". Basis of these models is the "Festbettreaktor" (trickling filter), a common type of sewage water treatment. The formation of biofilms is described both as model and as experimental examinations. Data from some cavesystems are introduced. The consequences of the results for the karstwater and its use are briefly explained.

Microbial communities associated with hydromagnesite and needle-fiber aragonite deposits in a karstic cave (Altamira, northern Spain), 1999, Canaveras Jc, Hoyos M, Sanchezmoral S, Sanzrubio E, Bedoya J, Soler V, Groth I, Schumann P, Laiz L, Gonzalez I, Sainzjimenez C,
Microbial communities, where Streptomyces species predominate, were found in association with hydromagnesite, Mg-5(CO3)(4)(OH)(2). 4H(2)O, and needle-fiber aragonite deposits in an Altamira cave. The ability to precipitate calcium carbonate in laboratory cultures suggests that these and other bacteria present in the cave may play a role in the formation of moonmilk deposits

Acidic cave-wall biofilms located in the Frasassi Gorge, Italy, 2000, Vlasceanu L. , Sarbu S. M. , Engel A. S. , Kinkle B. K. ,
Acidic bioflms present on cave walls in the sulfidic region of the Frasassi Gorge, Italy, were investigated to determine their microbial composition and their potential role in cave formation and ecosystem functioning. All biofilm samples examined had pH values <1.0. Scanning electron microscopy of the biofilms revealed the presence of various filaments and rods associated in large clusters with mineral crystals. Qualitative energy-dispersive x-ray analysis was used to determine that the crystals present on the cave walls, associated with the microbial biofilm, were composed of calcium and barium sulfate. Ribosomal RNA-based methods to determine the microbial composition of these biofilms revealed the presence of at least two strains of potential acidophilic, sulfur-oxidizing bacteria, belonging to the genera Thiobacillus and Sulfobacillus. An acid producing strain of Thiobacillus sp. also was obtained in pure culture. Stable isotope ratio analysis of carbon and nitrogen showed that the wall biofilms are isotopically light, suggesting that in situ chemoautotrophic activity plays an important role in this subsurface ecosystem

Spatial and temporal patterns of bacterial density and metabolic activity in a karst aquifer, 2001, Simon K. S. , Gibert J. , Petitot P. , Laurent R. ,
Karst aquifers are heterotrophic ecosystems fueled by organic matter imported from the surface. The temporal pattern of floods influences organic matter import and the spatial distribution of organic matter and biofilms in aquifer structural zones. We investigated spatial and temporal patterns of bacterial density and activity as indicators of energy availability and microbial dynamics in a karst aquifer. During baseflow, bacterial density and microbial hydrolytic activity were similar in the upper and lower zones of the aquifer. Floods apparently scoured aquifer biofilms and trans ported soil bacteria into the aquifer, increasing inactive bacterial density in the water column. Respiring bacterial density did not respond to floods and changed little over time. The overall proportion of total bacteria that were respiring was very high on some dates, resulting from a reduction of inactive cell density during flood recession. Floods appear to be key events in scouring senescent microbial assemblages in karst aquifers and stimulating microbial recolonization of the aquifer matrix. We conclude that a conceptual model of karst aquifer structure and function should incorporate changes caused by alternation between flooding and drying in the aquifer

Mn-Fe deposits in shallow cryptic marine environment: examples in northwestern Mediterranean submarine caves, 2001, Allouc J, Harmelin Jg,
Black coating of hard substrates by Mn and Fe oxides has long been reported from shallow, dark, submarine caves. However, these littoral metallic deposits have never been studied in detail, despite expected analogies with deep-sea polymetallic crusts. Submarine caves are characterized by darkness and low rates of exchanges with the open sea. Lack of primary production and confinement of inner water bodies result in marked oligotrophy and extremely reduced biomass, i.e. conditions close to those prevailing in deep-sea habitats. Field evidences suggested that the formation of Mn-Fe coatings was closely tied to these particular environmental conditions. The goal of this study was to examine the detailed features of Mn-Fe coatings from dark caves with different local conditions, and to try to identify the processes responsible for their deposition. Study sites and methods Three sublittoral, single-entrance, caves were sampled by scuba diving along the coasts of Provence (France, Mediterranean Sea) (fig. 1). The first site is a large karstic cave (Tremies Cave, 16 m depth at entrance floor, 60 m long; Marseille-Cassis area) with an ascending profile which results in a buffered thermal regime and markedly oligotrophic conditions due to warm water trapping in its upper part (fig. 1 and 2). Wall fragments were sampled at 30 m (medium confinement : zone B) and 60 in (strong confinement : zone C) from the cave entrance. The second site is a large tubular cavity open in conglomerate formations (3PP Cave, 15 m depth at entrance floor, 120 m long; La Ciotat) with a descending profile which results in relative permanence of winter temperatures within the inner parts, complex water circulation and presumed greater input of sedimented particles than in the preceding cave (fig.1 and 2). Wall samples were taken at 25 m, 70 in and 100 m from entrance. The third site is a small, horizontal, cave open in quartzite formations (Bagaud Cave, 7 in depth at entrance floor, about 10 m long; WNW of Port-Cros Island, bay of Hyeres). Sampling was performed on walls of a narrow corridor between an anterior room and a smaller inner room. A sporadic outflow of continental waters is located in the inner room. The samples were preserved in 50% ethylic alcohol or studied soon after their sampling. Before carbon coating and SEM examination, or microanalyses with SEM-associated spectrometers, they were treated in a 33% Chlorox solution and thereafter washed in demineralized water and dried. Micromorphology At low-medium magnification (<20,000), the aspect of coatings varies between caves and, especially, between inner-cave locations. All the described structures are made up of Mn and Fe oxides. In Tremies Cave, coatings of walls from zone B are composed of irregular erected constructions (height : 10s to 100s μm) formed by the aggregation of roughly ovoid primary concretions of about 10 μm (fig. 3). The surface of those primary concretions displays numerous lacunose to reticulate films (pores, about 0.5 μm in diameter, are often subrounded). Remnants of these films and organomorphic corpuscles occur also within the primary concretions (fig. 4). On younger substrates (broken wall exposed since 1970), primary concretions are poorly developed and no prominent construction is visible (fig. 5). In more confined conditions (zone C), the erected constructions of ancient coatings are smaller and less numerous than in zone B but are well individualized (fig. 6). In this zone: C, besides some remnants of lacunose to reticulate films (fig. 7), there is an appearance of filaments and ovoid corpuscles (height/width : 10-30/5-15 μm), which seem to be linked to filaments by a short stalk (fig. 8). In 3 PP Cave, at 25-70 m from entrance, wall coatings present porous heaps of primary concretions (fig. 9). The surface and the inside of the latter comprise remnants of lacunose to reticulate films that evoke those observed in Tremies Cave (fig. 10 and 11). On younger substrates (hard parts of sessile invertebrates), coatings are restricted to micrometric organomorphic corpuscles with some remnants of lacunose or fibrous films (fig. 12). At 100 in from the entrance, coatings are shaped by numerous erected constructions, more or less coalescing (fig. 13). Besides remnants of lacunose films, the primary concretions contain interlacing filaments (diameter : 0.2-0.3 μm) forming cords or veils (fig. 14). In Bagaud Cave, the primary concretions are aggregated in irregular heaps (fig. 15). Lacunose films are particularly frequent and tend to form three-dimensional mamillated structures that were not observed in the other caves (fig. 16). In particular, there is an appearance of tubular structures (fig. 17) and of numerous hemispheroidal structures (diameter : 4-5 μm) with an upper orifice (fig. 18 and 19). At higher magnification (20,000), whatever the cave and inner-cave location, the aspect of oxide deposits is rather smooth or, especially, microgranular (fig. 20). Mineral composition The composition of coatings is different between caves and according to their inner-cave location. In both large caves (Tremies and 3 PP), the Mn/Fe ratio increases with the distance from the cave entrance, i.e. when exchanges with the open sea diminish (fig. 21a). This trend is particularly clear in Tremies Cave, where the confinement gradient is strongly marked. Besides, the Mn/Fe ratio also seems to increase when films are present in the analysed volume (some cubic micrometers) (fig. 21b). In Bagaud Cave, the Mn/Fe ratio reaches high values despite the small size of this cave and its low confinement level. Discussion and conclusions SEM observations suggest that in each studied cave, the Mn-Fe coatings are biosedimentary deposits. Genesis of these deposits is assumed to result mainly from the replacement of biofilms (composed of cells and slime, i.e, of extracellular polymeric substance produced by microorganisms) generated by microbial populations colonizing the cave walls. Considering the darkness of the cave-locations, microbes consist mainly in bacteria, but fungi are probably responsible for the filaments and ovoids corpuscules (evoking sporocysts) occurring in innermost parts. Observations at different scales of the morphological features of oxide deposits reveal a structured organisation which varies along the strong environmental gradients (particularly the confinement level) that occur from the entrance to the innermost parts : erected constructions made up of primary concretions become more and more defined and acquire a pseudo-columnar shape. The aspect of biofilms appears to be controlled by the same environmental parameters. In open or relatively open environments, they frequently show a three-dimensional development (with frequent skullcape-like shapes), while in more confined conditions they exhibit a planar layout. These changes reflect either the adaptation of the slime-producing bacteria to the local trophic resources (correlated to the rate of exchange with the open sea) and water movements, or spatial replacement of taxa. It is assumed that slime (mainly composed of water and exopolysaccharides) induces a local increase of the concentration in dissolved Mn and acts as an ion exchange resin that allows the retention of Mn on the functional groups of EPS. These conditions promote the nucleation of Mn oxide crystallites in the slime. Then. the anionic character of Mn oxides in seawater, and their capacity to catalyse the oxydation of Mn2 to Mn4, allow the process to go on without any other biological intervention; thus, the process of crystal growth becomes possible. In caves where Mn is only supplied by seawater (Tremies and 3 PP), the average value of the Mn/Fe ratio of coatings is negatively correlated to the local availability of nutrients. This trend is probably linked to changes in the selectivity of slimes towards the processes of retention of cations, because this ratio is clearly influenced by the occurrence of biofilms. However, independently from trophic resources, the Mn/Fe ratio can be notably increased when additional Mn is provided by the seeping or flowing of continental waters (Bagaud Cave)

Ecological assessment and geological significance of microbial communities from Cesspool Cave, Virginia, 2001, Engel As, Porter Ml, Kinkle Bk, Kane Tc,
Microbial mats from hydrogen sulfide-rich waters and cave-wall biofilms were investigated from Cesspool Cave, Virginia, to determine community composition and potential geomicrobiological functioning of acid-producing bacteria. Rates of microbial mat chemoautotrophic productivity were estimated using [C-14]-bicarbonate incorporations and microbial heterotrophy was determined using [C-14]-leucine incubations. Chemoautotrophic fixation was measured at 30.4 12.0 ng C mg dry wt(1) h(1), whereas heterotrophic productivity was significantly less at 0.17 0.02 ng C mg dry wt(1) h(1). The carbon to nitrogen ratios of the microbial mats averaged 13.5, indicating that the mats are not a high quality food source for higher trophic levels. Ribosomal RNA-based methods were used to examine bacterial diversity in the microbial mats, revealing the presence of at least five strains of bacteria. The identity of some of the strains could be resolved to the genus Thiothrix and the Flexibacter-Cytophaga-Bacteriodes phylum, and the identity of the remaining strains was to either the Helicobacter or Thiovulum group. Two of 10 sulfur-oxidizing, chemoautotrophic pure cultures of Thiobacillus spp. (syn. Thiomonas gen. nov.) demonstrated the ability to corrode calcium carbonate, suggesting that the colonization and metabolic activity of these bacteria may be enhancing cave enlargement

Stalactites extrieures dans les karsts tropicaux humides. Dpts stalagmitiques de tufs calcaires, 2004, Taborosi Danko, Hirakawa Kazuomi
Outside Stalactites in humid tropical karst Stalactitic deposits of calcareous tufa - Friable and porous stalactitic deposits composed of calcareous tufa rather than sparry calcite characteristic of normal cave stalactites are often encountered in the entrances of caves and plastered to cliffs in the humid tropics. Tufaceous stalactitic outside deposits are frequently mentioned in literature but are typically dismissed in a few sentences, even in review articles dedicated to calcareous tufa. Mostly based on fieldwork in the Mariana Island, we have identified a variety of depositional settings where stalactitic tufa occurs. These settings can be grouped into spelean, transitional, epigean, and littoral realms. Centimetre to tens of meters in scale, their overall shapes can be quite irregular, with crooked, bulbous, pendant-like, light-oriented and other deflected forms exceedingly common. The outside surfaces of these stalactites invariably lack the crystalline luster of cave speleothems and feel wet and pasty, or powdery and earthy when dry. They are often covered with organic coatings. Stalactitic tufas are generally lightweight, porous, and friable, and many small specimens are weak enough to be plucked by hand. Composed of layered microcrystalline material, sometimes reminiscent of chalk, these stalactites exhibit a bewildering variety of fabrics, which can be classified as encrusted, amorphous, and laminated. In addition, they contain much organic material, microbial structures, and detrital grains. A wide array of biota is associated with these features, and they are thought to form by biogenic mechanisms superimposed on abiotic physico-chemical precipitation from karst water. Biologic processes involved in the formation of stalactitic tufa are numerous and appear to involve hundreds of species. While it is now clear that stalactitic tufas are a result of abiotic and biogenic deposition, an additional possibility remains to be considered. It is not improbable that tufa-like stalactites could form by decay and diagenesis of true cave speleothems, if the latter are exposed at the land surface conditions. Stalactitic tufas represent a unique, subaerial variety of calcareous tufa rarely deliberated in karst literature.

Involvement of microorganisms in the formation of carbonate speleothems in the Cervo Cave (L'Aquila-Italy), 2004, Cacchio P, Contento R, Ercole C, Cappuccio G, Martinez Mp, Lepidi A,
Much is known about the bacterial precipitation of carbonate rocks, but comparatively little is known about the involvement of microbes in the formation of secondary mineral structures in caves. We hypothesized that bacteria isolated from calcareous stalactites, which are able to mediate CaCO3 precipitation in vitro, play a role in the formation of carbonate speleothems. We collected numerous cultivable calcifying bacteria from calcareous speleothems from Cervo cave, implying that their presence was not occasional. The relative abundance of calcifying bacteria among total cultivable microflora was found to be related to the calcifying activity in the stalactites. We also determined the delta(13)C and delta(18)O values of the Cervo cave speleothems from which bacteria were isolated and of the carbonates obtained in vitro to determine whether bacteria were indeed involved in the formation of secondary mineral structures. We identified three groups of biological carbonates produced in vitro at 11degreesC on the basis of their carbon isotopic composition: carbonates with delta(13)C values ( a) slightly more positive, (b) more negative, and (c) much more negative than those of the stalactite carbonates. The carbonates belonging to the first group, characterized by the most similar delta(13)C values to stalactites, were produced by the most abundant strains. Most of calcifying isolates belonged to the genus Kocuria. Scanning electron microscopy showed that dominant morphologies of the bioliths were sherulithic with fibrous radiated interiors. We suggest a mechanism of carbonate crystal formation by bacteria

Biofilms, 2004, Boston R.

Dominant Microbial Populations in Limestone-Corroding Stream Biofilms, Frasassi Cave System, Italy, 2006, Macalady Jennifer L. , Lyon Ezra H. , Koffman Bess, Albertson Lindsey K. , Meyer Katja, Galdenzi Sandro, Mariani Sandro,
Waters from an extensive sulfide-rich aquifer emerge in the Frasassi cave system, where they mix with oxygen-rich percolating water and cave air over a large surface area. The actively forming cave complex hosts a microbial community, including conspicuous white biofilms coating surfaces in cave streams, that is isolated from surface sources of C and N. Two distinct biofilm morphologies were observed in the streams over a 4-year period. Bacterial 16S rDNA libraries were constructed from samples of each biofilm type collected from Grotta Sulfurea in 2002. {beta}-, {gamma}-, {delta}-, and {varepsilon}-proteobacteria in sulfur-cycling clades accounted for [≥]75% of clones in both biofilms. Sulfate-reducing and sulfur-disproportionating {delta}-proteobacterial sequences in the clone libraries were abundant and diverse (34% of phylotypes). Biofilm samples of both types were later collected at the same location and at an additional sample site in Ramo Sulfureo and examined, using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). The biomass of all six stream biofilms was dominated by filamentous {gamma}-proteobacteria with Beggiatoa-like and/or Thiothrix-like cells containing abundant sulfur inclusions. The biomass of {varepsilon}-proteobacteria detected using FISH was consistently small, ranging from 0 to less than 15% of the total biomass. Our results suggest that S cycling within the stream biofilms is an important feature of the cave biogeochemistry. Such cycling represents positive biological feedback to sulfuric acid speleogenesis and related processes that create subsurface porosity in carbonate rocks

An environmental model of fluvial tufas in the monsoonal tropics, Barkly karst, northern Australia, 2006, Carthew Kd, Taylor Mp, Drysdale Rn,
Spring-fed streams that deposit tufa (ambient temperature freshwater calcium carbonate deposits) in the tropics of northern Australia are influenced strongly by perennially warm water temperatures, high evaporation rates, and monsoon driven high-magnitude floods. This paper presents an environmental model that will aid interpretation of fossil fluvial tufas throughout monsoonal Australia. In the Barkly karst, northern Australia, tufas form in dam, cascade and pool/waterhole geomorphic environments. Each environment is represented in the morphostratigraphical record by a specific combination of tufa geomorphic units and facies associations. A diverse array of tufa facies is present, including microphytic, larval, calcite raft, macrophytic and allochthonous types. Preservation of particular Barkly karst tufa facies is thought to reflect the strength of monsoonal floods. A strong monsoon is represented by an abundance of flood indicators such as the allochthonous phytoclastic, lithoclastic and intraclastic tufa facies. Conversely, evidence of weak monsoons or a prolonged absence of floods may include oncoids, calcite rafts and thick accumulations of fine carbonate sediments. The history of the Australian monsoon is not fully understood. However, fossil tufa deposits, which record terrestrial climate information, have been preserved throughout northern Australia and hold great potential for reconstructing the region's climate history. Fossil tufa sequences at two Barkly karst sites have been interpreted using the new model. It can be applied to other Barkly karst fossil tufas as well as those in similar environments elsewhere in the world. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved

Extremely acidic, pendulous cave wall biofilms from the Frasassi cave system, Italy, 2007, Jennifer L. Macalady, * Daniel S. Jones And Ezra H. Lyon
The sulfide-rich Frasassi cave system hosts an aphotic, subsurface microbial ecosystem including extremely acidic (pH 0?1), viscous biofilms (snottites) hanging from the cave walls. We investigated the diversity and population structure of snottites from three locations in the cave system using full cycle rRNA methods and culturing. The snottites were composed primarily of bacteria related to Acidithiobacillus species. Other populations present in the snottites included Thermoplasmata group archaea, bacteria related to Sulfobacillus, Acidimicrobium, and the proposed bacterial lineage TM6, protists, and filamentous fungi. Based on fluorescence in situ hybridization population counts, Acidithiobacillus are key members of the snottite communities, accompanied in some cases by smaller numbers of archaea related to Ferroplasma and other Thermoplasmata. Diversity estimates show that the Frasassi snottites are among the lowestdiversity natural microbial communities known, with one to six prokaryotic phylotypes observed depending on the sample. This study represents the first in-depth molecular survey of cave snottite microbial diversity and population structure, and contributes to understanding of rapid limestone dissolution and cave formation by microbially mediated sulfuric acid speleogenesis.

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