Earth's deep subsurface biosphere (DSB) is home to a vast number and wide variety of microorganisms. Although difficult to access and sample, deep subsurface environments have been probed through drilling programs, exploration of mines and sampling of deeply sourced vents and springs. In an effort to understand the ecology of deep terrestrial habitats, we examined bacterial diversity in the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF), the former Homestake gold mine, in South Dakota, USA. Whole genomic DNA was extracted from deeply circulating groundwater and corresponding host rock (at a depth of 1.45 km below ground surface). Pyrotag DNA sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene revealed diverse communities of putative chemolithoautotrophs, aerobic and anaerobic heterotrophs, numerous candidate phyla and unique rock-associated microbial assemblage. There was a clear and near-total separation of communities between SURF deeply circulating fracture fluids and SURF host-rocks. Sequencing data from SURF compared against five similarly sequenced terrestrial subsurface sites in Europe and North America revealed classes Clostridia and Betaproteobacteria were dominant in terrestrial fluids. This study presents a unique analysis showing differences in terrestrial subsurface microbial communities between fracture fluids and host rock through which those fluids permeate.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)