, Volume 60, Issue 3, pp 539-550

Microbial and Mineralogical Characterizations of Soils Collected from the Deep Biosphere of the Former Homestake Gold Mine, South Dakota

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Abstract

A microbial census on deep biosphere (1.34 km depth) microbial communities was performed in two soil samples collected from the Ross and number 6 Winze sites of the former Homestake gold mine, Lead, South Dakota using high-density 16S microarrays (PhyloChip). Soil mineralogical characterization was carried out using X-ray diffraction, X-ray photoelectron, and Mössbauer spectroscopic techniques which demonstrated silicates and iron minerals (phyllosilicates and clays) in both samples. Microarray data revealed extensive bacterial diversity in soils and detected the largest number of taxa in Proteobacteria phylum followed by Firmicutes and Actinobacteria. The archael communities in the deep gold mine environments were less diverse and belonged to phyla Euryarchaeota and Crenarchaeota. Both the samples showed remarkable similarities in microbial communities (1,360 common OTUs) despite distinct geochemical characteristics. Fifty-seven phylotypes could not be classified even at phylum level representing a hitherto unidentified diversity in deep biosphere. PhyloChip data also suggested considerable metabolic diversity by capturing several physiological groups such as sulfur-oxidizer, ammonia-oxidizers, iron-oxidizers, methane-oxidizers, and sulfate-reducers in both samples. High-density microarrays revealed the greatest prokaryotic diversity ever reported from deep subsurface habitat of gold mines.