Microbial Ecology

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 305–321 | Cite as

Viability and metabolic features of bacteria indigenous to a contaminated deep aquifer

  • C. M. McCarthy
  • L. Murray


The quantitation and characterization of indigenous bacteria of a deep aquifer, located in the southwestern United States and contaminated with halogenated aliphatic compounds, was undertaken. Water samples were obtained aseptically from depths of 45 to 151 m from four sites that ranged from 260 to 1,800 m in distance from the location of contaminant release. Sediment samples were also obtained from the proximal and distal sites for analyses. Results for aerobic and anaerobic colony-forming units were obtained on four agar media that were used to retrieve heterotrophs, oligotrophs, and pseudomonads. Most probable number estimates were obtained from a liquid medium favorable for oligotrophs. Representative isolates were tested against Biolog plates (Biolog, Inc., Hayward, Calif.) for patterns of carbon source utilization. Of 103 Gram-negative (GN) isolates, 48 could not be identified and the others were only tentatively identified via the Biolog database, and none of the 35 Gram-positive (GP) isolates were identifiable. However, the metabolic patterns were subjected to average cluster linkage analyses; the GN and GP bacteria were separable into eight and four groups, respectively. The oligotroph group comprised one-third of the GN and one-half of the GP isolates. The consensus carbon source utilization pattern for each group was determined and will be useful in future characterization of additional aquifer bacterial isolates. Although predominantly aerobic and oligotrophic, the microbial community of this aquifer was highly diverse with discernible viability and metabolic features of the microbiota distinctive to each of the four water and two sediment samples.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. M. McCarthy
    • 1
  • L. Murray
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Experimental StatisticsNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA

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