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Eukaryotic opportunists dominate the deep-subsurface biosphere in South Africa

Author(s): Borgonie, Gaetan; Linage-Alvarez, Borja; Ojo, Adebayo O; Mundle, Scott OC; Freese, LB; et al

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Abstract: Following the discovery of the first Eukarya in the deep subsurface, intense interest has developed to understand the diversity of eukaryotes living in these extreme environments. We identified that Platyhelminthes, Rotifera, Annelida and Arthropoda are thriving at 1.4 km depths in palaeometeoric fissure water up to 12,300 yr old in South African mines. Protozoa and Fungi have also been identified; however, they are present in low numbers. Characterization of the different species reveals that many are opportunistic organisms with an origin due to recharge from surface waters rather than soil leaching. This is the first known study to demonstrate the in situ distribution of biofilms on fissure rock faces using video documentation. Calculations suggest that food, not dissolved oxygen is the limiting factor for eukaryal population growth. The discovery of a group of Eukarya underground has important implications for the search for life on other planets in our solar system.
Publication Date: 24-Nov-2015
Citation: Borgonie, Gaetan, Borja Linage-Alvarez, Adebayo O. Ojo, Scott O. C. Mundle, L. B. Freese, Chante Van Rooyen, Olukayode Kuloyo et al. "Eukaryotic opportunists dominate the deep-subsurface biosphere in South Africa." Nature Communications 6 (2015): 1-12. doi:10.1038/ncomms9952.
DOI: doi:10.1038/ncomms9952
EISSN: 2041-1723
Pages: 1 - 12
Language: eng
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Nature Communications
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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