Archaeal Diversity in Waters from Deep South African Gold Mines

Ken Takai, Duane P. Moser, Mary DeFlaun, Tullis C. Onstott, James K. Fredrickson

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333 Scopus citations


A culture-independent molecular analysis of archaeal communities in waters collected from deep South African gold mines was performed by performing a PCR-mediated terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis of rRNA genes (rDNA) in conjunction with a sequencing analysis of archaeal rDNA clone libraries. The water samples used represented various environments, including deep fissure water, mine service water, and water from an overlying dolomite aquifer. T-RFLP analysis revealed that the ribotype distribution of archaea varied with the source of water. The archaeal communities in the deep gold mine environments exhibited great phylogenetic diversity; the majority of the members were most closely related to uncultivated species. Some archaeal rDNA clones obtained from mine service water and dolomite aquifer water samples were most closely related to environmental rDNA clones from surface soil (soil clones) and marine environments (marine group I [MGI]). Other clones exhibited intermediate phylogenetic affiliation between soil clones and MGI in the Crenarchaeota. Fissure water samples, derived from active or dormant geothermal environments, yielded archaeal sequences that exhibited novel phylogeny, including a novel lineage of Euryarchaeota. These results suggest that deep South African gold mines harbor novel archaeal communities distinct from those observed in other environments. Based on the phylogenetic analysis of archaeal strains and rDNA clones, including the newly discovered archaeal rDNA clones, the evolutionary relationship and the phylogenetic organization of the domain Archaea are reevaluated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5750-5760
Number of pages11
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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