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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2013 Dec;86(3):490-504. doi: 10.1111/1574-6941.12176. Epub 2013 Aug 1.

National survey of molecular bacterial diversity of New Zealand groundwater: relationships between biodiversity, groundwater chemistry and aquifer characteristics.

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Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand.


Groundwater is a vital component of rural and urban water supplies in New Zealand. Although extensive monitoring of chemical and physical properties is conducted due to the high demand for this valuable resource, current information on its bacterial content is limited. However, bacteria provide an immense contribution to drive the biogeochemical processes in the groundwater ecosystem as in any other ecosystem. Therefore, a proper understanding of bacterial diversity is crucial to assess the effectiveness of groundwater management policies. In this study, we investigated the bacterial community structure in NZ groundwater at a national scale using the terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) molecular profiling tool and determined the relationships between bacterial diversity and groundwater chemistry, geological parameters and human impact. Considerable bacterial diversity was present and the community structures were strongly related to groundwater chemistry, and in particular to redox potential and human impact, reflecting their potential influence on determination of bacterial diversity. Further, the mean residence time of groundwater also showed relationships with bacterial community structure. These novel findings pertaining to community composition and its relationships with environmental parameters will provide a strong foundation for qualitative exploration of the bacterial diversity in NZ groundwater in relation to sustainable management of this valuable resource.


Bacteria; DNA Analysis; NGMP; New Zealand National Groundwater Monitoring Programme; T-RFLP

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