Microbial communities in deep subsurface environments comprise a large portion of Earth's biomass, but the metabolic activities in these habitats are largely unknown. Here the effect of CO2 and carbonate on the microbial community of an isolated groundwater fracture zone at 180 m depth of the Outokumpu Deep Scientific Drill Hole (Finland) was tested. Outokumpu groundwater at 180 m depth contains approximately 0.45 L L-1 dissolved gas of which methane contributes 76%. CO2, on the other hand, is scarce. The number of microbial cells with intracellular activity in the groundwater was low when examined with redox staining. Fluorescence Assisted Cell Sorting (FACS) analyses indicated that only 1% of the microbial community stained active with the redox sensing dye in the untreated groundwater after 4 weeks of starvation. However, carbon substrate and sulfate addition increased the abundance of fluorescent cells up to 7%. CO2 and CO2 + sulfate activated the greatest number of microbes, especially increasing the abundance of Pseudomonas sp., which otherwise was present at only low abundance in Outokumpu. Over longer exposure time (2 months) up to 50% of the bacterial cells in the groundwater were shown to incorporate inorganic carbon from carbonate into biomass. Carbon recapture is an important feature in this ecosystem since it may decrease the rate of carbon loss in form of CO2 released from cellular processes.
- crystalline bedrock