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Microbe/Mineral Affinities

This is a paper from the Geomicrobiology lab at the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin. It was recently published in a special issue of Geomicrobiology Journal focused on geomicrobiology of subsurface microorganisms in cave environments.

In this study we attempt to expose a fundamental relationship between the attached microbial community and mineral composition for subsurface microbial ecosystems. We find evidence of competing mineral-chemistry and microbiological influences on microbial colonization and diversity, and that specific microorganisms are better adapted to take advantage of specific minerals/rocks. This is a fundamentally interdisciplinary examination of the subsurface microbe-mineral interaction that combines elements of geology, chemistry, and microbiology, employing novel methods to evaluate the differences in rock-hosted community using approaches previously reserved for purely biological studies (e.g. Figure 4).

This study looks at the intersection of biology and geology, and how geology influences microbial colonization, growth, diversification, and survival in the subsurface. It is an investigation of one aspect of the origin and early evolution of life through geologic time, and offers insight into the geochemical consequences of the microbe-mineral relationship: mineral dissolution and diagenesis, cave formation, carbon cycling, and metal mobility. The implications of this study are broadly applicable to the development and adaptive nature of life itself, which even the non-scientist may contemplate.

Jones, Aaron A., and Philip C. Bennett. "Mineral Microniches Control the Diversity of Subsurface Microbial Populations." Geomicrobiology Journal 31.3 (2014): 246-261.


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