Microbial Ecology

, Volume 70, Issue 4, pp 936–947 | Cite as

Pyrosequencing-Based Assessment of the Microbial Community Structure of Pastoruri Glacier Area (Huascarán National Park, Perú), a Natural Extreme Acidic Environment

  • Elena González-Toril
  • Esther Santofimia
  • Yolanda Blanco
  • Enrique López-Pamo
  • Manuel J. Gómez
  • Miguel Bobadilla
  • Rolando Cruz
  • Edwin Julio Palomino
  • Ángeles AguileraEmail author
Environmental Microbiology


The exposure of fresh sulfide-rich lithologies by the retracement of the Nevado Pastoruri glacier (Central Andes, Perú) is increasing the presence of heavy metals in the water as well as decreasing the pH, producing an acid rock drainage (ARD) process in the area. We describe the microbial communities of an extreme ARD site in Huascarán National Park as well as their correlation with the water physicochemistry. Microbial biodiversity was analyzed by FLX 454 sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. The suggested geomicrobiological model of the area distinguishes three different zones. The proglacial zone is located in the upper part of the valley, where the ARD process is not evident yet. Most of the OTUs detected in this area were related to sequences associated with cold environments (i.e., psychrotolerant species of Cyanobacteria or Bacteroidetes). After the proglacial area, an ARD-influenced zone appeared, characterized by the presence of phylotypes related to acidophiles (Acidiphilium) as well as other species related to acidic and cold environments (i.e., acidophilic species of Chloroflexi, Clostridium and Verrumicrobia). Sulfur- and iron-oxidizing acidophilic bacteria (Acidithiobacillus) were also identified. The post-ARD area was characterized by the presence of OTUs related to microorganisms detected in soils, permafrost, high mountain environments, and deglaciation areas (Sphingomonadales, Caulobacter or Comamonadaceae).


Acid rock drainage Acidophiles Extreme environments Massive sequencing Extremophiles 



We would like to thank the staff from Huaraz National Park for the sampling permits and support during the field trip. MB was supported by a FINCyT-Science and Technology Program Grant 117-2009-FINCyT-BDE, Presidency of the Council of Ministers of Peru. The authors wish to thank also Mª Paz Martín Redondo (Centro de Astrobiología) for the TXRF and ICP-MS analysis. The work has been supported by the Spanish Science and Innovation Grant CGL2011-22540.

Supplementary material

248_2015_634_MOESM1_ESM.docx (7.8 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 7936 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elena González-Toril
    • 1
  • Esther Santofimia
    • 2
  • Yolanda Blanco
    • 1
  • Enrique López-Pamo
    • 2
  • Manuel J. Gómez
    • 1
  • Miguel Bobadilla
    • 3
  • Rolando Cruz
    • 4
  • Edwin Julio Palomino
    • 4
  • Ángeles Aguilera
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Centro de Astrobiología (INTA-CSIC)Instituto Nacional de Técnica AeroespacialMadridSpain
  2. 2.Instituto Geológico y Minero de EspañaMadridSpain
  3. 3.Departamento Académico de Ciencias Ambientales. Facultad de Recursos Naturales RenovablesUniversidad Nacional Agraria de la SelvaHuánucoPerú
  4. 4.Facultad de Ciencias AmbientalesUniversidad Nacional Santiago Antúnez de MayoloHuarazPerú

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