Earth Sciences Division (ESD) Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

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What Deep-Underground Microbes Tell Us

Source: LBNL TABL, Dan Hawkes


UC Berkeley scientists obtained samples of microbes from more than 10 feet underground at the former site of a uranium processing mill in Rifle, Colo., bordering the Colorado River.

Jill Banfield, Ken Williams and Phil Long of the Earth Sciences Division are coauthors of an article in Science describing the activity of subsurface microorganisms after amendments of acetate. The newly sequenced bacterial community may play previously unrecognized roles in hydrogen production, sulfur cycling, and fermentation of sedimentary carbon. The results could improve models of the residence time of subsurface organic carbon and the mobility of redox metals such as uranium.


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