, Volume 592, Issue 1, pp 1–10

Ophel: a groundwater biome based on chemoautotrophic resources. The global significance of the Ayyalon cave finds, Israel

Opinion Paper


The discovery, in the inner coastal plain of Israel, of a deep, secluded subterranean ecosystem, supported by chemosynthetis producing by sulfide-oxidizing bacteria, suggests the existence of a new biome, “Ophel”, with an autonomous energy basis. This biome could provide an ecological and historical basis for explaining the high taxonomic diversity of subterranean faunas, especially of crustaceans. A continuum with the anchialine ecosystems, in which chemoautotrophy is also encountered, as well as with marine hot vents and cold seeps, implies the existence of a second, parallel chemosynthesis-based eukaryotic biosphere.


Groundwater biota Chemoautotrophy Biospheric considerations 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael

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