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Prokaryotic populations and activities in an interbedded coal deposit, including a previously deeply buried section (1.6–2.3 km) above ∼ 150 Ma basement rock

Fry, John Christopher, Horsfield, Brian, Sykes, Richard, Cragg, Barry A., Heywood, Chloe, Kim, Gwang Tae, Mangelsdorf, Kai, Mildenhall, Dallas C., Rinna, Joachim ORCID:, Vieth, Andrea, Zink, Klaus G., Sass, Henrik ORCID:, Weightman, Andrew John ORCID: and Parkes, Ronald John 2009. Prokaryotic populations and activities in an interbedded coal deposit, including a previously deeply buried section (1.6–2.3 km) above ∼ 150 Ma basement rock. Geomicrobiology Journal 26 (3) , pp. 163-178. 10.1080/01490450902724832

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A largely terrestrial, lignite/coal-bearing, 148 m core from the Waikato Basin, New Zealand, was studied, with a multidisciplinary approach, for subsurface microbiology. The top ≈76 m was Latest Miocene-Late Pleistocene (≈0.4–5.5 Ma) sediments, which overlay an unconformity and a previously deeply buried (1,600–2,300 m, × 55–75°C) ≈69 m section of moderately indurated, Late Eocene-Early Oligocene (≈32–35 Ma) deposits. Below this is weathered, Late Jurassic metasedimentary basement rock (145.5–157.0 Ma). Similar cell numbers (mean 1.2 × 106 cm −3 ), high viability (4–32%), intact phospholipids (biomarkers for living Bacteria) and activity (sulphate reduction, DNA replication) occurred heterogeneously throughout the core, including the weathered basement rock. Substantial numbers of viable anaerobic heterotrophic and lignite-utilizing bacteria (means 3.4 × 10 4 , 3.0 × 10 3 cm −3 ) were present throughout the core. This is similar to some deep terrestrial formations but contrasts with the generally exponentially decreasing prokaryotic populations in sub-seafloor sediments. For Bacteria, ≈76% of the 16S rRNA gene phylotypes were similar above (31.98 m) and below (133.55 m) the 76 m unconformity, which together with similar cell numbers indicates limited deep burial impact/palaeosterilization, or effective re-colonisation. Archaeal populations were not dominant being only detected with general primers at 31.98 m and those detected with methanogen functional primers were different above and below the ≈76 m unconformity. Both dominant bacterial (Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, Chloroflexi) and archaeal (Miscellaneous Crenarchaeotic Group, Methanosarcinales and Methanobacteriales) sequences were similar to those previously detected in both marine and terrestrial subsurface environments, reflecting the changing depositional conditions of the formation. However, the presence of ANME sequences had not been previously found in the terrestrial subsurface. A large proportion of the bacterial 16S rDNA diversity was cultured (43% of commonest genera). Prokaryotic populations and activity changed with lithology and depth and substrates (formate, acetate, oxalate) may diffuse from high-carbon, lignite/coaly layers to support bacterial populations in adjacent sandy or clay-silt layers.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
Q Science > QR Microbiology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Deep biosphere ; Terrestrial subsurface ; Biogeochemistry ; Prokaryote diversity ; Bacterial activity.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0149-0451
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2022 11:43

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