Attached and suspended microbial communities in a pristine confined aquifer

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We compare the community of microbes attached to the sediments in a pristine confined aquifer to the free-floating community suspended in the groundwater there. We sampled the attached microbial community at 19 wells completed in the glacial Mahomet aquifer in east central Illinois using in situ samplers, and we sampled the suspended community by filtering microbes from groundwater. At each well, we profiled the two communities using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism and compared the profiles we obtained with multivariate statistical analyses. Some populations at a well are detected both in the attached and suspended communities, but the shared populations represent, on average, only one third of each community; the remaining populations are detected exclusively in one community or the other. Clones closely related to the iron-reducing bacteria Geobacter and Geothrix represent more than 20% of the total attached community detected at many wells, but at no well do they make up more than 1% of the suspended community. To fully characterize the microbial community in an aquifer, it may be necessary to sample the attached as well as suspended communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberW07425
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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