Metabolic activity of subterranean microbial communities in deep granitic groundwater supplemented with methane and H 2
Journal article, 2013
It was previously concluded that opposing gradients of sulphate and methane, observations of 16S ribosomal DNA sequences displaying great similarity to those of anaerobic methane-oxidizing Archaea and a peak in sulphide concentration in groundwater from a depth of 250-350 m in Olkiluoto, Finland, indicated proper conditions for methane oxidation with sulphate. In the present research, pressure-resistant, gas-tight circulating systems were constructed to enable the investigation of attached and unattached anaerobic microbial populations from a depth of 327 m in Olkiluoto under in situ pressure (2.4 MPa), diversity, dissolved gas and chemistry conditions. Three parallel flow cell cabinets were configured to allow observation of the influence on microbial metabolic activity of 11 mM methane, 11 mM methane plus 10 mM H 2 or 2.1 mM O 2 plus 7.9 mM N 2 (that is, air). The concentrations of these gases and of organic acids and carbon, sulphur chemistry, pH and E h, ATP, numbers of cultivable micro-organisms, and total numbers of cells and bacteriophages were subsequently recorded under batch conditions for 105 days. The system containing H 2 and methane displayed microbial reduction of 0.7 mM sulphate to sulphide, whereas the system containing only methane resulted in 0.2 mM reduced sulphate. The system containing added air became inhibited and displayed no signs of microbial activity. Added H 2 and methane induced increasing numbers of lysogenic bacteriophages per cell. It appears likely that a microbial anaerobic methane-oxidizing process coupled to acetate formation and sulphate reduction may be ongoing in aquifers at a depth of 250-350 m in Olkiluoto. © 2013 International Society for Microbial Ecology All rights reserved.