Irene Schaperdoth

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Highly acidic (pH 0-1) biofilms, known as 'snottites', form on the walls and ceilings of hydrogen sulfide-rich caves. We investigated the population structure, physiology and biogeochemistry of these biofilms using metagenomics, rRNA methods and lipid geochemistry. Snottites from the Frasassi cave system (Italy) are dominated (>70% of cells) by(More)
Symbioses involving animals and chemoautotrophic bacteria form the foundation of entire ecosystems at deep-sea hydrothermal vents and cold seeps, but have so far not been reported in terrestrial or freshwater environments. A rare example of a terrestrial ecosystem sustained by chemoautotrophy is found within the sulfide-rich Frasassi limestone cave complex(More)
The sulfidic Frasassi cave system affords a unique opportunity to investigate niche relationships among sulfur-oxidizing bacteria, including epsilonproteobacterial clades with no cultivated representatives. Oxygen and sulfide concentrations in the cave waters range over more than two orders of magnitude as a result of seasonally and spatially variable(More)
We performed a microbial community analysis of biofilms inhabiting thermal (35 to 50 degrees C) waters more than 60 m below the ground surface near Acquasanta Terme, Italy. The groundwater hosting the biofilms has 400 to 830 microM sulfide, <10 microM O(2), pH of 6.3 to 6.7, and specific conductivity of 8,500 to 10,500 microS/cm. Based on the results of 16S(More)
A series of molecular and geochemical studies were performed to study microbial, coal bed methane formation in the eastern Illinois Basin. Results suggest that organic matter is biodegraded to simple molecules, such as H(2) and CO(2), which fuel methanogenesis and the generation of large coal bed methane reserves. Small-subunit rRNA analysis of both the in(More)
Inland blue holes of the Bahamas are anchialine ecosystems with distinct fresh and salt water layers, and anoxic or microoxic conditions at depth. Scientific cave diving and geomicrobiology exploration of blue holes are providing a first glimpse of the geochemistry and microbial life in these vertically stratified karst features. We hypothesized that two(More)
The Frasassi and Acquasanta Terme cave systems in Italy host isolated lithoautotrophic ecosystems characterized by sulfur-oxidizing biofilms with up to 50% S(0) by mass. The net contributions of microbial taxa in the biofilms to production and consumption of S(0) are poorly understood and have implications for understanding the formation of geological(More)
Mahoney Lake represents an extreme meromictic model system and is a valuable site for examining the organisms and processes that sustain photic zone euxinia (PZE). A single population of purple sulfur bacteria (PSB) living in a dense phototrophic plate in the chemocline is responsible for most of the primary production in Mahoney Lake. Here, we present(More)
Organic biomarkers in marine sedimentary rocks hold important clues about the early history of Earth's surface environment. The chemical relicts of carotenoids from anoxygenic sulfur bacteria are of particular interest to geoscientists because of their potential to signal episodes of marine photic-zone euxinia such as those proposed for extended periods in(More)
Extremely acidic (pH 0-1.5) Acidithiobacillus-dominated biofilms known as snottites are found in sulfide-rich caves around the world. Given the extreme geochemistry and subsurface location of the biofilms, we hypothesized that snottite Acidithiobacillus populations would be genetically isolated. We therefore investigated biogeographic relationships among(More)
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