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Phylogenetic and physiological characterization of deep-biosphere microorganisms in El’gygytgyn Crater Lake sediments

Despite the progress that has been made in the field of microbiology in deep subsurface environments in recent years, we still know very little about the diversity and function of deep biosphere microorganisms and their impact on the global geochemical cycles. For this reason, in the on-going project the abundance and diversity of deep biosphere microorganisms in the sediments of the El’gygytgyn Crater Lake will be investigated. The sediments and impact rocks were recovered from the El’gygytgyn Lake in the scope of the ICDP project “Scientific Drilling at El’gygytgyn Crater Lake” from November 2008 to May 2009 (German PI Prof. Dr. Martin Melles, University of Cologne). Of particular interest is the understanding of the development, survival and potential metabolic activity along the chronosequence from the oldest to the youngest lake sediments. Because the El’gygytgyn Lake was formed by a meteorite impact 3.6 million years ago, this impact should be taken into consideration to understand the development of microbial life since that time. For this purpose microbiological, molecular ecological and geochemical methods will be applied to analyze the lake sediments. This includes the investigation of small-scale variations within the community structure and their potential metabolic activity along the lake sediment chronosequence. The acquired data will help deepen our knowledge about the development of microbial communities and variations within the communities in time and space since the meteorite impact.


Janine Görsch (PhD student)


Prof. Dr. Martin Melles, Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, University of Cologne, Cologne

Dr. Volker Wenrich, Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, University of Cologne, Cologne

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