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Ground Water. 2018 Sep;56(5):719-731. doi: 10.1111/gwat.12615. Epub 2017 Nov 9.

Groundwater Microbial Communities Along a Generalized Flowpath in Nomhon Area, Qaidam Basin, China.

Sheng Y1,2,3, Wang G1,2, Zhao D1,2, Hao C1,2, Liu C4, Cui L1,2, Zhang G5.

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State Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental Geology & Key Laboratory of Groundwater Circulation and Evolution, China University of Geosciences, Beijing, 100083, China.
School of Water Resources and Environment, China University of Geosciences, Beijing, 100083, China.
School of Environment, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 100084, China.
Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration, Beijing, 100029, China.
Xi'an Center of Geological Survey, China Geological Survey, Xi'an, 710054, China.


Spatial distribution (horizonal and vertical) of groundwater microbial communities and the hydrogeochemistry in confined aquifers were studied approximately along the groundwater flow path from coteau to plain in the Nomhon area, Qinghai-Tibet plateau, China. The confined groundwater samples at different depths and locations were collected in three boreholes through a hydrogeological section in this arid and semi-arid area. The phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA genes and multivariate statistical analysis were used to elucidate similarities and differences between groundwater microbial communities and hydrogeochemical properties. The integrated isotopic geochemical measurements were applied to estimate the source and recharge characteristics of groundwater. The results showed that groundwater varied from fresh to saline water, and modern water to ancient water following the flowpath. The recharge characteristics of the saline water was distinct with that of fresh water. Cell abundance did not vary greatly along the hydrogeochemical zonality; however, dissimilarities in habitat-based microbial community structures were evident, changing from Betaproteobacteria in the apex of alluvial fan to Gammaproteobacteria and then to Epsilonproteobacteria in the core of the basin (alluvial-lacustrine plain). Rhodoferax, Hydrogenophaga, Pseudomonas, and bacterium isolated from similar habitats unevenly thrived in the spatially distinct fresh water environments, while Sulfurimonas dominanted in the saline water environment. The microbial communities presented likely reflected to the hydrogeochemical similarities and zonalities along groundwater flowpath.


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