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Microb Ecol. 2012 Jul;64(1):91-104. doi: 10.1007/s00248-011-9997-2. Epub 2012 Jan 4.

First prokaryotic biodiversity assessment using molecular techniques of an acidic river in Neuquén, Argentina.

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  • 1CINDEFI (CONICET-UNLP), Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, La Plata, Argentina. msurbieta@biol.unlp.edu.ar


Two acidic hot springs close to the crater of Copahue Volcano (Neuquén, Argentina) are the source of the Río Agrio. The river runs several kilometres before flowing into Caviahue Lake. Along the river, temperature, iron, other metal and proton concentrations decrease gradually with distance downstream. From the source to the lake and depending on the season, pH can rise from 1.0 (or even less) to about 4.0, while temperature values decrease from 70°C to 15°C. Water samples were taken from different stations on the river selected according to their physicochemical parameters. In order to assess prokaryotic biodiversity throughout the water column, different and complementary molecular biology techniques were used, mainly in situ hybridisation and 16S rRNA gene cloning and sequencing. All microorganisms found are typical of acidic environments. Sulphur-oxidizing bacteria like Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans and Acidithiobacillus albertensis were detected in every station. Moderately thermophile iron- and sulphur-oxidizing bacteria like members of Alicyclobacillus and Sulfobacillus genera were also ubiquitous. Strict iron-oxidizing bacteria like Leptospirillum and Ferrimicrobium were present at the source of the river, but disappeared downstream where iron concentrations were much lower. Iron-oxidizing, mesophilic Ferroplasma spp. were the main archaea found. The data presented in this work represent the first molecular assessment of this rare natural acidic environment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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