Microbial Ecology

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 293–304 | Cite as

Comparison of bacteria from deep subsurface sediment and adjacent groundwater

  • Terry C. Hazen
  • Luis Jiménez
  • Geralyne López de Victoria
  • Carl B. Fliermans


Samples of groundwater and the enclosing sediments were compared for densities of bacteria using direct (acridine orange direct staining) and viable (growth on 1% PTYG medium) count methodology. Sediments to a depth of 550 m were collected from boreholes at three sites on the Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina, using techniques to insure a minimum of surface contamination. Clusters of wells screened at discreet intervals were established at each site. Bacterial densities in sediment were higher, by both direct and viable count, than in groundwater samples. Differences between direct and viable counts were much greater for groundwater samples than for sediment samples. Densities of bacteria in sediment ranged from less than 1.00×106 bacteria/g dry weight (gdw) up to 5.01 ×108 bacteria/gdw for direct counts, while viable counts were less than 1.00×103 CFU/gdw to 4.07×107 CFU/gdw. Bacteria densities in groundwater were 1.00×103–6.31×104 bacteria/ml and 5.75–4.57×102 CFU/ml for direct and viable counts, respectively. Isolates from sediment were also found to assimilate a wider variety of carbon compounds than groundwater bacteria. The data suggest that oligotrophic aquifer sediments have unique and dense bacterial communities that are attached and not reflected in groundwater found in the strata. Effective in situ bioremediation of contaimination in these aquifers may require sampling and characterization of sediment communities.


Viable Count Subsurface Sediment Savannah River Site Microb Ecol Terrestrial Subsurface 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terry C. Hazen
    • 1
  • Luis Jiménez
    • 1
  • Geralyne López de Victoria
    • 1
  • Carl B. Fliermans
    • 1
  1. 1.Environmental Sciences Section, Savannah River LaboratoryWestinghouse Savannah River CompanyAikenUSA

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