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Microorganisms 2015, 3(1), 17-33; doi:10.3390/microorganisms3010017

Rapid Reactivation of Deep Subsurface Microbes in the Presence of C-1 Compounds

1
Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), Kemistintie 3/Tietotie 2, FI-02044, Espoo, Finland
2
Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), P.O. Box 96, FI-02151, Espoo, Finland
3
University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 33, University of Helsinki, FI-00014, Helsinki, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Ludmila Chistoserdova and Marina G. Kalyuzhnaya
Received: 10 December 2014 / Revised: 26 January 2015 / Accepted: 29 January 2015 / Published: 5 February 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial C1 Metabolism)
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Abstract

Microorganisms in the deep biosphere are believed to conduct little metabolic activity due to low nutrient availability in these environments. However, destructive penetration to long-isolated bedrock environments during construction of underground waste repositories can lead to increased nutrient availability and potentially affect the long-term stability of the repository systems, Here, we studied how microorganisms present in fracture fluid from a depth of 500 m in Outokumpu, Finland, respond to simple carbon compounds (C-1 compounds) in the presence or absence of sulphate as an electron acceptor. C-1 compounds such as methane and methanol are important intermediates in the deep subsurface carbon cycle, and electron acceptors such as sulphate are critical components of oxidation processes. Fracture fluid samples were incubated in vitro with either methane or methanol in the presence or absence of sulphate as an electron acceptor. Metabolic response was measured by staining the microbial cells with fluorescent dyes that indicate metabolic activity and transcriptional response with RT-qPCR. Our results show that deep subsurface microbes exist in dormant states but rapidly reactivate their transcription and respiration systems in the presence of C-1 substrates, particularly methane. Microbial activity was further enhanced by the addition of sulphate as an electron acceptor. Sulphate- and nitrate-reducing microbes were particularly responsive to the addition of C-1 compounds and sulphate. These taxa are common in deep biosphere environments and may be affected by conditions disturbed by bedrock intrusion, as from drilling and excavation for long-term storage of hazardous waste. View Full-Text
Keywords: C-1 carbon; methanotrophy; sulphate reduction; nitrate reduction; terrestrial deep biosphere; microbial activity C-1 carbon; methanotrophy; sulphate reduction; nitrate reduction; terrestrial deep biosphere; microbial activity
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Rajala, P.; Bomberg, M.; Kietäväinen, R.; Kukkonen, I.; Ahonen, L.; Nyyssönen, M.; Itävaara, M. Rapid Reactivation of Deep Subsurface Microbes in the Presence of C-1 Compounds. Microorganisms 2015, 3, 17-33.

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