Coupled C, H, N, S and Fe biogeochemical cycles operating in the continental deep subsurface of the Iberian Pyrite Belt

Amils, Ricardo; Escudero, Cristina; Oggerin, Monike; Puente Sánchez, Fernando; Arce Rodríguez, Alejandro; Fernández Remolar, David; Rodríguez, Nuria; García Villadangos, Miriam; Sanz, José Luis; Briones, Carlos; Sánchez, Mónica; Gómez, Felipe; Leandro, Tania; Moreno-Paz, Mercedes; Prieto-Ballesteros, Olga; Molina, Antonio; Tornos, Fernando; Sánchez-Andrea, Irene; Timmis, Kenneth; Pieper, Dietmar H.; Parro, Victor


Microbial activity is a major contributor to the biogeochemical cycles that make up the life support system of planet Earth. A 613 m deep geomicrobiological perforation and a systematic multi-analytical characterization revealed an unexpected diversity associated with the rock matrix microbiome that operates in the subsurface of the Iberian Pyrite Belt (IPB). Members of 1 class and 16 genera were deemed the most representative microorganisms of the IPB deep subsurface and selected for a deeper analysis. The use of fluorescence in situ hybridization allowed not only the identification of microorganisms but also the detection of novel activities in the subsurface such as anaerobic ammonium oxidation (ANAMMOX) and anaerobic methane oxidation, the co-occurrence of microorganisms able to maintain complementary metabolic activities and the existence of biofilms. The use of enrichment cultures sensed the presence of five different complementary metabolic activities along the length of the borehole and isolated 29 bacterial species. Genomic analysis of nine isolates identified the genes involved in the complete operation of the light-independent coupled C, H, N, S and Fe biogeochemical cycles. This study revealed the importance of nitrate reduction microorganisms in the oxidation of iron in the anoxic conditions existing in the subsurface of the IPB.