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A Study of the Microbial Community at the Interface between Granite Bedrock and Soil Using a Culture-Independent and Culture-Dependent Approach

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DOI: 10.4236/aim.2016.63023    1,943 Downloads   2,486 Views Citations

ABSTRACT

The dissolution of minerals plays an important role in the formation of soils and sediments. In nutrient limiting soils, minerals constitute a major reservoir of bio-essential cations. Of particular interest is granite as it is the major rock type of the continental land mass. Although certain bacteria have been shown to enhance weathering of granite-forming minerals, little is known about the dissolution of granite, at the whole rock scale, and the microbial community involved. In this study, both culture-independent and culture-dependent approaches were used to study the bacterial community at the interface between granite bedrock and nutrient limiting soil in Dartmoor National Park, United Kingdom. High throughput sequencing demonstrated that over 70% of the bacterial population consisted of the bacterial classes Bacilli, Beta-proteobacteria and Gamma-proteo-bacteria. Bacteria belonging to the genera Serratia, Pseudomonas, Bacillus, Paenibacillus, Chromo-bacterium and Burkholderia were isolated from the sample site. All of the isolates were able to grow in a minimal growth medium, which contained glucose and ammonium chloride, with granite as the sole source of bio-essential elements. Sixty six percent of the isolates significantly enhanced basalt dissolution (p < 0.05). Dissolution of Si, K, Ca and Mg correlated with production of oxalic acid and acidification. The results of this study suggest that microorganisms in nutrient limiting soils can enhance the rate of granite dissolution, which is an important part of the biogeochemical cycle.

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Olsson-Francis, K. , Pearson, V. , Schofield, P. , Oliver, A. and Summers, S. (2016) A Study of the Microbial Community at the Interface between Granite Bedrock and Soil Using a Culture-Independent and Culture-Dependent Approach. Advances in Microbiology, 6, 233-245. doi: 10.4236/aim.2016.63023.

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