Biogeochemical Cycling by a Low-Diversity Microbial Community in Deep Groundwater

Olkiluoto, an island on the south-west coast of Finland, will host a deep geological repository for the storage of spent nuclear fuel. Microbially induced corrosion from the generation of sulphide is therefore a concern as it could potentially compromise the longevity of the copper waste canisters. Groundwater at Olkiluoto is geochemically stratified with depth and elevated concentrations of sulphide are observed when sulphate-rich and methane-rich groundwaters mix. Particularly high sulphide is observed in methane-rich groundwater from a fracture at 530.6 mbsl, where mixing with sulphaterich groundwater occurred as the result of an open drill hole connecting two different fractures at different depths. To determine the electron donors fuelling sulphidogenesis, we combined geochemical, isotopic, metagenomic and metaproteomic analyses. This revealed a low diversity microbial community fuelled by hydrogen and organic carbon. Sulphur and carbon isotopes of sulphate and dissolved inorganic carbon, respectively, confirmed that sulphate reduction was ongoing and that CO2 came from the degradation of organic matter. The results demonstrate the impact of introducing sulphate to a methane-rich groundwater with limited electron acceptors and provide insight into extant metabolisms in the terrestrial subsurface.

Published in:
Frontiers In Microbiology, 9, 2129
Sep 07 2018

 Record created 2018-12-13, last modified 2019-06-19

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