Stygofauna enhance prokaryotic transport in groundwater ecosystems

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Date
2016
Authors
Smith, Renee J
Paterson, James
Launer, Elise
Tobe, Shanan S
Morello, Eliesa
Leijs, Remko
Marri, Shashikanth
Mitchell, James Gordon
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Journal ISSN
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Publisher
Nature Publishing Group
Abstract
More than 97% of the world’s freshwater reserves are found in aquifers, making groundwater one of the most important resources on the planet. Prokaryotic communities in groundwater underpin the turnover of energy and matter while also maintaining groundwater purity. Thus, knowledge of microbial transport in the subsurface is crucial for maintaining groundwater health. Here, we describe for the first time the importance of stygofauna as vectors for prokaryotes. The “hitch-hiking” prokaryotes associated with stygofauna may be up to 5 orders of magnitude higher in abundance and transported up to 34× faster than bulk groundwater flow. We also demonstrate that prokaryotic diversity associated with stygofauna may be higher than that of the surrounding groundwater. Stygofauna are a newly recognized prokaryotic niche in groundwater ecosystems that have the potential to transport remediating, water purifying and pathogenic prokaryotes. Therefore, stygofauna may influence ecosystem dynamics and health at a microbial level, and at a larger scale could be a new source of prokaryotic diversity in groundwater ecosystems.
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Copyright © 2016, The Author(s) This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
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Citation
Smith RJ, Paterson JS, Launer E, et al. Stygofauna enhance prokaryotic transport in groundwater ecosystems. Scientific Reports. 2016;6:32738. doi:10.1038/srep32738.