Acidic Cave-Wall Biofilms Located in the Frasassi Gorge, Italy
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Taylor and Francis Online
Acidic biofilms present on cave walls in the sulfidic region of the Frasassi Gorge, Italy, were investigated to determine their microbial composition and their potential role in cave formation and ecosystem functioning. All biofilm samples examined had pH values < 1.0. Scanning electron microscopy of the biofilms revealed the presence of various filaments and rods associated in large clusters with mineral crystals. Qualitative energy-dispersive x-ray analysis was used to determine that the crystals present on the cave walls, associated with the microbial biofilm, were composed of calcium and barium sulfate. Ribosomal RNA-based methods to determine the microbial composition of these biofilms revealed the presence of at least two strains of potential acidophilic, sulfur-oxidizing bacteria, belonging to the genera Thiobacillus and Sulfobacillus. An acid-producing strain of Thiobacillus sp. also was obtained in pure culture. Stable isotope ratio analysis of carbon and nitrogen showed that the wall biofilms are isotopically light, suggesting that in situ chemoautotrophic activity plays an important role in this subsurface ecosystem.
Acidophilic, Biofilms, Chemoautotrophic, Speleogenesis, Sulfobacillus Thiobacillus
Acidophilic; Biofilms; Chemoautotrophic; Speleogenesis; Sulfobacillus Thiobacillus
Vlasceanu, Luminita; Sarbu, Serban M.; Engel, Annette S.; and Kinkle, Brian K., "Acidic Cave-Wall Biofilms Located in the Frasassi Gorge, Italy" (2000). KIP Articles. 120.