Special Issue "Microbial Diversity in Caves"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2017).
Interests: geomicrobiology; astrobiology; species diversity; distributional diversity; biogeographical diversity; community diversity; genetic diversity; microbes associated with higher organisms; impacts of humans on microbial diversity; microbial conservation; threats to microbial diversity
I am inviting you to consider submitting a manuscript to Diversity for a Special Issue on “Microbial Diversity of Caves”. Life on Earth is mostly microbial, both eukaryotic and prokaryotic, and in the aphotic subsurface. Caves can provide access to the shallow and deep subsurface for the study of these environments. Caves can be classified by the kind of rock and how they were formed. Microbes are directly involved in the solutional formation of karst caves through the flow of slightly acidic water that can be increased by microbial activities that acidify the water as it moves through soil. Another solutional process is sulfuric acid speleogenesis, where sulfuric acid is formed abiotically or though the action of chemolithotrophic bacteria. There are other types of caves, including lava caves, ice caves, talus caves, shelter caves, and so on. Built environments like mines and bunkers are also often studied in Speleomicrobiology. Caves have also been suggested as a model for Astrobiological studies since caves are likely places to harbor life on other planets.
A great deal of interest has focused recently on the intersection of geological processes and microbial action in the study of Geomicrobiology. Most low-energy processes in caves are probably the result of microbial action. Geomicrobiological processes include contributions to the formation of speleothems and secondary mineral deposits, including moonmilk. Microbial involvement includes both depositional and erosional processes. Microbes are involved in ferromanganese deposits, nitrates, and nutrient cycling in caves.
Caves are considered extreme environments due to the lack of sunlight resulting in extremely oligotrophic conditions in most caves. In addition to the lack of food, cave biota are further stressed by high humidity and constant low temperatures. Are there microbes adapted to, and unique to, the cave environment? Caves may also be good places to look for the production of bioactive compounds including antibiotics. Among the big questions are presence vs. activity of microbes; just because something can be found in an environment may not mean the organism and the environment have any impact on the other. How do microbes influence higher organisms, including as parasites and microbial contributors to nutrition of cave crickets? What are the microbiomes of cave-adapted organisms, including bats?
We need to think small, at the level of the microniche. New techniques in geology, chemistry and genomics can offer new insights into microbial diversity of caves. We need more information from basic distributional studies to experimental research. For this Special Issue I am looking for reviews. distributional surveys, and experimental studies relating to any aspect of microbial diversity, both eukaryotic and prokaryotic, in caves of all types.
Thank you for your consideration.
Prof. Kathleen Lavoie
Manuscript Submission Information
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