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Publication Date

May 2020


Caves formed by sulfuric acid dissolution have been identified worldwide. These caves can host diverse microbial communities that are responsible for speleogenesis and speleothem formation. It is not well understood how microbial communities change in response to surface water entering caves. Illumina 16S rRNA sequencing and bioinformatic tools were used to determine the impact of surface water on the microbial community diversity and function within a spring pool found deep in the Monte Conca Cave system in Sicily, Italy. Sulfur oxidizers comprised more than 90% of the microbial community during the dry season and were replaced by potential anthropogenic contaminants such as Escherichia and Lysinibacillus species after heavy rains. One sampling date appeared to show a transition between the wet and dry seasons when potential anthropogenic contaminants (67.3%), sulfur-oxidizing bacteria (13.6%), and nitrogen-fixing bacteria (6.5%) were all present within the spring pool.


Spring, Bacteria, Surface Water, Sulfides, Sulfur, Escherichia, Hydrogen, Sequence Analysis

Document Type



PLoS ONE, Vol. 15, no. 5 (2020-05-06).





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