Exploring the piezotolerant/piezophilic microbial community and genomic basis of piezotolerance within the deep subsurface Deccan traps.


Environmental Microbiology and Genomics Laboratory, Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, Kharagpur, 721302, India. [Email]


The deep biosphere is often characterized by multiple extreme physical-chemical conditions, of which pressure is an important parameter that influences life but remains less studied. This geomicrobiology study was designed to understand the response of a subterranean microbial community of the Deccan traps to high-pressure conditions and to elucidate their genomic properties. Groundwater from a deep basaltic aquifer of the Deccan traps was used to ascertain the community response to 25 MPa and 50 MPa pressure following enrichment in high-salt and low-salt organic media. Quantitative PCR data indicated a decrease in bacterial and archaeal cell numbers with increasing pressure. 16S rRNA gene sequencing displayed substantial changes in the microbial community in which Acidovorax appeared to be the most dominant genus in the low-salt medium and Microbacteriaceae emerged as the major family in the high-salt medium under both pressure conditions. Genes present in metagenome-associated genomes which have previously been associated with piezotolerance include those related to nutrient uptake and extracytoplasmic stress (omp, rseC), protein folding and unfolding (dnaK, groEL and others), and DNA repair mechanisms (mutT, uvr and others). We hypothesize that these genes facilitate tolerance to high pressure by certain groups of microbes residing in subsurface Deccan traps.


Deccan traps,Piezotolerant/piezophilic microbes,Pressure adaptation,Terrestrial deep biosphere,