Transition from unclassified Ktedonobacterales to Actinobacteria during amorphous silica precipitation in a quartzite cave environment

D. Ghezzi, F. Sauro, A. Columbu, C. Carbone, Pei-Ying Hong, F. Vergara, J. De Waele, M. Cappelletti

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AbstractThe orthoquartzite Imawarì Yeuta cave hosts exceptional silica speleothems and represents a unique model system to study the geomicrobiology associated to silica amorphization processes under aphotic and stable physical–chemical conditions. In this study, three consecutive evolution steps in the formation of a peculiar blackish coralloid silica speleothem were studied using a combination of morphological, mineralogical/elemental and microbiological analyses. Microbial communities were characterized using Illumina sequencing of 16S rRNA gene and clone library analysis of carbon monoxide dehydrogenase (coxL) and hydrogenase (hypD) genes involved in atmospheric trace gases utilization. The first stage of the silica amorphization process was dominated by members of a still undescribed microbial lineage belonging to the Ktedonobacterales order, probably involved in the pioneering colonization of quartzitic environments. Actinobacteria of the Pseudonocardiaceae and Acidothermaceae families dominated the intermediate amorphous silica speleothem and the final coralloid silica speleothem, respectively. The atmospheric trace gases oxidizers mostly corresponded to the main bacterial taxa present in each speleothem stage. These results provide novel understanding of the microbial community structure accompanying amorphization processes and of coxL and hypD gene expression possibly driving atmospheric trace gases metabolism in dark oligotrophic caves.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 16 2021

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