Geomicrobiology and Metagenomics of Terrestrial Deep Subsurface Microbiomes Chapter uri icon

DCO ID 11121/5143-4792-2806-8316-CC

is Contribution to the DCO

  • YES

year of publication

  • 2016


  • Fractures in the deep subsurface of Earth's crust are inhabited by diverse microbial communities that participate in biogeochemical cycles of the Earth. Life on Earth, which arose c. 3.5–4.0 billion years ago, reaches down at least 5 km in the crust. Deep mines, caves, and boreholes have provided scientists with opportunities to sample deep subsurface microbiomes and to obtain information on the species diversity and functions. A wide variety of bacteria, archaea, eukaryotes, and viruses are now known to reside in the crust, but their functions are still largely unknown. The crust at different depths has varying geological composition and hosts endemic microbiomes accordingly. The diversity is driven by geological formations and gases evolving from deeper depths. Cooperation among different species is still mostly unexplored, but viruses are known to restrict density of bacterial and archaeal populations. Due to the complex growth requirements of the deep subsurface microbiomes, the new knowledge about their diversity and functions is mostly obtained by molecular methods, eg, meta‘omics’. Geomicrobiology is a multidisciplinary research area combining disciplines from geology, mineralogy, geochemistry, and microbiology. Geomicrobiology is concerned with the interaction of microorganisms and geological processes. At the surface of mineralogical or rock surfaces, geomicrobial processes occur mainly under aerobic conditions. In the deep subsurface, however, the environmental conditions are reducing and anaerobic. The present chapter describes the world of microbiomes in deep terrestrial geological environments as well as metagenomic and metatranscriptomic methods suitable for studies of these enigmatic communities.


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