Reference : Microorganisms in Karsts: a case study in St Anne cave, Belgium
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Poster
Life sciences : Environmental sciences & ecology
Life sciences : Phytobiology (plant sciences, forestry, mycology...)
Microorganisms in Karsts: a case study in St Anne cave, Belgium
Carnol, Monique mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département des sciences et gestion de l'environnement > Ecologie végétale et microbienne >]
Willems, Luc mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département de géologie > Pétrologie sédimentaire >]
Malchair, Sandrine mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département des sciences et gestion de l'environnement > Ecologie végétale et microbienne >]
Karst reasearch, Challenges for the XXIst century
du 30 septembre 2011 au 1 octobre 2011
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
[en] Karst ; Ammonia-oxidizing bateria (AOB) ; nitrification ; Chawresse
[en] Despite the importance of microorganisms as geochemical agents over geological times, their extended metabolic diversity and their essential role in element cycles (i.e. mineral dissolution, precipitation, oxido-reduction processes), microbial community composition and processes as well as their ecological role in karst environments are poorly known. While little was published on cave-dwelling microorganisms until the early 1990s, it is now recognized that microorganisms may mediate many important mineral transformations, originally considered to be inorganic in nature. Indeed, recent evidence (Northup & Lavoie, 2001) proved the implication of microorganisms in karstification through precipitation and dissolution processes, resulting in the deposition of carbonate speleothems, silicates, iron or manganese oxides, sulphur compounds and nitrates and in the breakdown of limestone walls. In this poster, we review some potential processes and signs of microbial activity in caves. We present results of a study on the microbial diversity in the ‘St Anne’ cave, Belgium. We focused on ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), which are responsible for the first, acidifying step of the nitrification process. Chemical composition of the water, numbers of cultivable bacteria (free and particle-associated bacteria) and the diversity of AOB were studied in waters and sediments of the ‘Chawresse’ (underground river in St Anne), on the cave wall and in the soil aboveground. The use of molecular techniques, based on direct ADN extractions, provide more detailed information on the microbial diversity of an environment, as culture-based techniques retrieve only about 1% of bacterial species present in the environment. Bacterial counts showed that most cultivable bacteria were associated with suspended particles and that their numbers decreased underground. Molecular analyses revealed the presence of AOB in the karst system. Comparison of aboveground and belowground diversity also indicated the possibility of a specific endokarst AOB community. Further research perspectives will be discussed.
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<br />Northup, D.E. and Lavoie, K.H. 2001. Geomicrobiology of caves: A review. Geomicrobiology Journal, 18(3):199-220.
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