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Nematoda from the terrestrial deep subsurface of South Africa

(2011) NATURE. 474(7349). p.79-82
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Abstract
Since its discovery over two decades ago, the deep subsurface biosphere has been considered to be the realm of single-cell organisms, extending over three kilometres into the Earth's crust and comprising a significant fraction of the global biosphere(1-4). The constraints of temperature, energy, dioxygen and space seemed to preclude the possibility of more-complex, multicellular organisms from surviving at these depths. Here we report species of the phylum Nematoda that have been detected in or recovered from 0.9-3.6-kilometre-deep fracture water in the deep mines of South Africa but have not been detected in the mining water. These subsurface nematodes, including a new species, Halicephalobus mephisto, tolerate high temperature, reproduce asexually and preferentially feed upon subsurface bacteria. Carbon-14 data indicate that the fracture water in which the nematodes reside is 3,000-12,000-year-old palaeometeoric water. Our data suggest that nematodes should be found in other deep hypoxic settings where temperature permits, and that they may control the microbial population density by grazing on fracture surface biofilm patches. Our results expand the known metazoan biosphere and demonstrate that deep ecosystems are more complex than previously accepted. The discovery of multicellular life in the deep subsurface of the Earth also has important implications for the search for subsurface life on other planets in our Solar System.
Keywords
WITWATERSRAND BASIN, EVOLUTION, CAENORHABDITIS-ELEGANS, SHIELD, WATER

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Borgonie, Gaetan, A Garcia-Moyano, D Litthauer, Wim Bert, A Bester, E van Heerden, C Moller, M Erasmus, and TC Onstott. 2011. “Nematoda from the Terrestrial Deep Subsurface of South Africa.” Nature 474 (7349): 79–82.
APA
Borgonie, Gaetan, Garcia-Moyano, A., Litthauer, D., Bert, W., Bester, A., van Heerden, E., Moller, C., et al. (2011). Nematoda from the terrestrial deep subsurface of South Africa. NATURE, 474(7349), 79–82.
Vancouver
1.
Borgonie G, Garcia-Moyano A, Litthauer D, Bert W, Bester A, van Heerden E, et al. Nematoda from the terrestrial deep subsurface of South Africa. NATURE. 2011;474(7349):79–82.
MLA
Borgonie, Gaetan, A Garcia-Moyano, D Litthauer, et al. “Nematoda from the Terrestrial Deep Subsurface of South Africa.” NATURE 474.7349 (2011): 79–82. Print.
@article{1269676,
  abstract     = {Since its discovery over two decades ago, the deep subsurface biosphere has been considered to be the realm of single-cell organisms, extending over three kilometres into the Earth's crust and comprising a significant fraction of the global biosphere(1-4). The constraints of temperature, energy, dioxygen and space seemed to preclude the possibility of more-complex, multicellular organisms from surviving at these depths. Here we report species of the phylum Nematoda that have been detected in or recovered from 0.9-3.6-kilometre-deep fracture water in the deep mines of South Africa but have not been detected in the mining water. These subsurface nematodes, including a new species, Halicephalobus mephisto, tolerate high temperature, reproduce asexually and preferentially feed upon subsurface bacteria. Carbon-14 data indicate that the fracture water in which the nematodes reside is 3,000-12,000-year-old palaeometeoric water. Our data suggest that nematodes should be found in other deep hypoxic settings where temperature permits, and that they may control the microbial population density by grazing on fracture surface biofilm patches. Our results expand the known metazoan biosphere and demonstrate that deep ecosystems are more complex than previously accepted. The discovery of multicellular life in the deep subsurface of the Earth also has important implications for the search for subsurface life on other planets in our Solar System.},
  author       = {Borgonie, Gaetan and Garcia-Moyano, A and Litthauer, D and Bert, Wim and Bester, A and van Heerden, E and Moller, C and Erasmus, M and Onstott, TC},
  issn         = {0028-0836},
  journal      = {NATURE},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {7349},
  pages        = {79--82},
  title        = {Nematoda from the terrestrial deep subsurface of South Africa},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature09974},
  volume       = {474},
  year         = {2011},
}

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