Microbial diversity and metabolic potential in caves

Ghezzi, Daniele (2020) Microbial diversity and metabolic potential in caves, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Biologia cellulare e molecolare, 32 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/9467.
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Caves are dark and oligotrophic habitats where chemotrophic microbial communities interact with the inorganic mineral rocks and cooperate organizing themselves in complex biological formations, which are visible in caves as biofilms, biodeposits or biospeleothems. In these environments, microorganisms contribute to the turnover of the matter and activate peculiar enzymatic reactions leading to the modification of the mineral rocks and to the production of metabolites with possible industrial and pharmaceutical interest. In this PhD thesis, various molecular and geomicrobiological approaches were used to investigate the microbial diversity and potential activities in different cave systems, i.e. the orthoquartzite cave Imawarì Yeuta, the sufidic cave Fetida and the ice cave Cenote Abyss. This is aimed at gathering indications on the possible interactions that support microbial growth and its impact in cave environments. As a result, microbial taxa and functions associated to light-independent chemolithotroph and heterotrophic activities were identified in the three caves, indicating the involvement of microorganisms in i) silica mobilization and amorphization processes and the formation of a novel type of silica-based stromatolite in Imawarì Yeuta Cave, ii) the formation of three types of biofilm/biodeposit involved in sulphur cycle and in the speleogenesis of Fetida Cave, iii) the development of biofilms and their maintenance under psychrophilic conditions in samples collected from ice in Cenote Abyss. Additionally, the metabolic potentials of around one hundred isolates derived from these cave systems were evaluated in terms on anti-microbial activity. The results pointed out that unexplored and oligotrophic caves are promising environments for novel bioactive molecules discovery.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Ghezzi, Daniele
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Geomicrobiology, Metagenomics, Caves, Speleothems, Bioactive Molecules, Microbial Communities, Biogeochemical Cycles, Antimicrobials
Data di discussione
2 Aprile 2020

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