Microbiome composition and geochemical characteristics of deep subsurface high-pressure environment, Pyhäsalmi mine Finland

Hanna Miettinen (Corresponding Author), Riikka Kietäväinen, Elina Sohlberg, Mikko Numminen, Lasse Ahonen, Merja Itävaara

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    42 Citations (Scopus)


    Pyhäsalmi mine in central Finland provides an excellent opportunity to study microbial and geochemical processes in a deep subsurface crystalline rock environment through near-vertical drill holes that reach to a depth of more than two kilometers below the surface. However, microbial sampling was challenging in this high-pressure environment. Nucleic acid yields obtained were extremely low when compared to the cell counts detected (1.4 * 104 cells mL-1) in water. The water for nucleic acid analysis went through high decompression (60-130 bar) during sampling, whereas water samples for detection of cell counts by microscopy could be collected with slow decompression. No clear cells could be identified in water that went through high decompression. The high-pressure decompression may have damaged part of the cells and the nucleic acids escaped through the filter. The microbial diversity was analyzed from two drill holes by pyrosequencing amplicons of the bacterial and archaeal 16S rRNA genes and from the fungal ITS regions from both DNA and RNA fractions. The identified prokaryotic diversity was low, dominated by Firmicute, Beta- and Gammaproteobacteria species that are common in deep subsurface environments. The archaeal diversity consisted mainly of Methanobacteriales. Ascomycota dominated the fungal diversity and fungi were discovered to be active and to produce ribosomes in the deep oligotrophic biosphere. The deep fluids from the Pyhäsalmi mine shared several features with other deep Precambrian continental subsurface environments including saline, Ca-dominated water and stable isotope compositions positioning left from the meteoric water line. The dissolved gas phase was dominated by nitrogen but the gas composition clearly differed from that of atmospheric air. Despite carbon-poor conditions indicated by the lack of carbon-rich fracture fillings and only minor amounts of dissolved carbon detected in formation waters, some methane was found in the drill holes. No dramatic differences in gas compositions were observed between different gas sampling methods tested. For simple characterization of gas composition the most convenient way to collect samples is from free flowing fluid. However, compared to a pressurized method a relative decrease in the least soluble gases may appear.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number01203
    JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • crystalline bedrock
    • deep subsurface
    • gas
    • geochemical characterization
    • high-pressure sampling
    • microbiome


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