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Spatial distribution of microbial populations and carbon cycle in the subsurface environment of the Horonobe area, Hokkaido, Japan

Amano, Yuki; Ise, Kotaro; Terashima, Motoki; Sasaki, Yoshito; Amamiya, Hiroki; Yoshikawa, Hideki

Microorganisms are widely distributed in the subsurface environments. However, the distribution, role and rate of metabolisms, and the origin of the activity are not well known. In this study, we investigated deep groundwater samples of sedimentary rocks, which is contained supersuturated methane and carbon dioxide, using boreholes in the Horonobe Underground Research Laboratory (URL), in the northern part of Hokkaido, Japan. Abundant methanogens were detected in the groundwater, and 80% of them were related to Methanoregula boonei and Methanobacterium flexile that can utilize hydrogen and carbon dioxide as methanogenesis. Phylotypes clustered within the phylum Firmicutes, beta-Proteobacteria, delta-Proteobacteria and Candidatte division TM7 were dominant in the groundwater samples. Laboratory experiment using culture a technique showed that humic substances purified from Horonobe area could be degraded by microorganisms. Our results suggest that microbial spatial distribution in the subsurface environment was correlate closely with geochemical conditions, such as redox condition and carbon sources.

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