Cave environments often contain abundant nitrogen (N), but the subterranean N cycle remains critically unconstrained. Mammoth Cave is particularly understudied in this regard and is an ideal test bed for competing hypotheses of N delivery and transformation. We hypothesize that lithotrophic microbes living within Mammoth Cave fill key niches in the cave N cycle. We propose a combined sequencing and isotope geochemistry approach to 1) Characterize the isotopic landscape of N, 2) Constrain microbial N cycling using amino acid isotope analysis, and 3) Decipher the diversity and genomic potential for N cycling. These data will inform subterranean N cycling at Mammoth Cave using cutting edge methodology in a manner heretofore unavailable. This enhanced understanding of subsurface N-dynamics in Mammoth Cave will inform the habitability and biogeochemistry of cave and karst systems. Outreach will bring karst microbiology to the public in the National Park and to the world via social media.
|Effective start/end date||11/1/20 → 11/30/21|
- New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (P0020895//P20AC00630)
- National Park Service (P0020895//P20AC00630)