This paper presents the molecular characterization of attached bacterial populations growing in slowly flowing artesian groundwater from deep crystalline bed-rock of the Stripa mine, south central Sweden. Bacteria grew on glass slides in laminar flow reactors connected to the anoxic groundwater flowing up through tubing from two levels of a borehole, 812-820 m and 970-1240 m. The glass slides were collected, the bacterial DNA was extracted and the 16S rRNA genes were amplified by PCR using primers matching universally conserved positions 519-536 and 1392-1405. The resulting PCR fragments were subsequently cloned and sequenced. The sequences were compared with each other and with 16S rRNA gene sequences in the EMBL database. Three major groups of bacteria were found. Signature bases placed the clones in the appropriate systematic groups. All belonged to the proteobacterial groups beta and gamma. One group was found only at the 812-820 m level, where it constituted 63% of the sequenced clones, whereas the second group existed almost exclusively at the 970-1240 m level, where it constituted 83% of the sequenced clones. The third group was equally distributed between the levels. A few other bacteria were also found. None of the 16S rRNA genes from the dominant bacteria showed more than 88% similarity to any of the others, and none of them resembled anything in the database by more than 96%. Temperature did not seem to have any effect on species composition at the deeper level. SEM images showed rods appearing in microcolonies. The conditions at the levels differ in pH, temperature, redox and flow rate, and in content of sulphate, iron and sulphide. The presence of one dominant species in the laminar-flow reactors at each level indicates that the environments might have offered restrictive physical or physiological conditions difficult to adapt to.


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