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Distribution and activity of microorganisms in subsurface sediments of a pristine study site in Oklahoma.

Authors
  • Beloin, R M
  • Sinclair, J L
  • Ghiorse, W C
Type
Published Article
Journal
Microbial ecology
Publication Date
Jul 01, 1988
Volume
16
Issue
1
Pages
85–97
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/BF02097407
PMID: 24201535
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Distribution and activity of microorganisms in surface soil and subsurface sediments were studied in depth profiles of six different microbial biomass and activity indicators (total direct counts, number of cells capable of electron transport system activity, viable cell plate counts, most Probable numbers of protozoa, and 4-hydroxybenzoate-degrading microorganisms, and ATP content). The profiles showed the same general trends on two different dates (January and June 1985). Seasonal variations were noted, but they were not extreme. Biomass and activity values declined sharply with depth in the unsaturated zone, reaching minima in a clay confining layer in the interface zone between 3 and 4 m. Contiguous 10-cm samples from the interface zone showed significant textural and microbiological variability. Higher and more stable biomass and activity values were detected in the saturated zone, the highest being a very permeable gravelly loamy sand layer at approximately 7.5 m. In this layer, viable counts were nearly equal to total counts and they approached the viable counts in surface soil. Surface-type protozoa and cyanobacteria also were detected in this layer, suggesting that it was connected hydrologically to a nearby river. Lowest values were detected in an underlying bedrock clay layer at 8 m, which, despite its impermeability and low viable counts, did contain measurable total counts, 4-hydroxybenzoate-degrading microorganisms, and ATP. Correlations were noted between sediment texture and microbial activity (i.e., sandy texture=high activity, clayey texture=low activity), but other hydrogeological and geochemical factors probably also influenced microbial distribution and activity in the profile.

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