Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 406851
Title Nematoda from the terrestrial deep subsurface of South Africa
Author(s) Borgonie, G.; García-Moyano, A.; Litthauer, D.; Bert, W.; Bester, A.; Heerden, E. van; Möller, C.; Erasmus, M.; Onstott, T.C.
Source Nature 474 (2011)7349. - ISSN 0028-0836 - p. 79 - 82.
Department(s) Laboratory of Nematology
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2011
Keyword(s) caenorhabditis-elegans - witwatersrand basin - evolution - shield - water
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 biosphere1–4. 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 phylumNematoda that have been detected in or recovered from 0.9–3.6-kilometredeep fracture water in the deep mines of South Africa but have not been detected in the mining water. These subsurfacenematodes, 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 theymay control themicrobial 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.
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