A Biomarker-based Approach to Assess Microbial Diversity and Functioning in an Extreme Acidic Environment: the Río Tinto, Spain
Understanding life in extreme environments provides insights into the limits of life and its possible origin. An interesting study site of an extensive natural extreme environment is the Río Tinto in Spain. The Río Tinto is characterized by a mean pH value around 2.2 and high heavy metal concentrations, which are consequences of the metabolism of the inhabiting bacteria. Moreover, iron abundantly present in the river results in a strong buffer capacity. A combined biomarker approach was applied including the investigation of intact polar lipids (IPLs) and polar lipid fatty acids, together with an exploratory labeling experiment, to describe the microbial community and its changes in composition along the course of the Río Tinto.
Funding: Marie Curie Outgoing International Fellowship (MOIF-CT-2004-509865) from the European Community and a MARUM postdoctoral Fellowship
Mentor: Kai-Uwe Hinrichs
Collaboration: Ricardo Amils, Centro de Astrobiología, Madrid, Spain