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Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 2136287, 13 pages
Research Article

Archaeal Diversity and CO2 Fixers in Carbonate-/Siliciclastic-Rock Groundwater Ecosystems

1Aquatic Geomicrobiology, Institute of Ecology, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Germany
2Department of Hydrogeology, Institute of Geosciences, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Germany
3German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
4Institute of Geosciences, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Germany
5U.S. Geological Survey National Research Program, Reston, VA, USA
6Department of Soil Ecology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Halle (Saale), Germany

Correspondence should be addressed to Kirsten K├╝sel

Received 16 November 2016; Revised 22 February 2017; Accepted 18 April 2017; Published 13 June 2017

Academic Editor: Chuanlun Zhang

Copyright © 2017 Cassandre Sara Lazar et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Groundwater environments provide habitats for diverse microbial communities, and although Archaea usually represent a minor fraction of communities, they are involved in key biogeochemical cycles. We analysed the archaeal diversity within a mixed carbonate-rock/siliciclastic-rock aquifer system, vertically from surface soils to subsurface groundwater including aquifer and aquitard rocks. Archaeal diversity was also characterized along a monitoring well transect that spanned surface land uses from forest/woodland to grassland and cropland. Sequencing of 16S rRNA genes showed that only a few surface soil-inhabiting Archaea were present in the groundwater suggesting a restricted input from the surface. Dominant groups in the groundwater belonged to the marine group I (MG-I) Thaumarchaeota and the Woesearchaeota. Most of the groups detected in the aquitard and aquifer rock samples belonged to either cultured or predicted lithoautotrophs (e.g., Thaumarchaeota or Hadesarchaea). Furthermore, to target autotrophs, a series of 13CO2 stable isotope-probing experiments were conducted using filter pieces obtained after filtration of 10,000 L of groundwater to concentrate cells. These incubations identified the SAGMCG Thaumarchaeota and Bathyarchaeota as groundwater autotrophs. Overall, the results suggest that the majority of Archaea on rocks are fixing CO2, while archaeal autotrophy seems to be limited in the groundwater.