Microbial and Geochemical Dynamics of an Aquifer Stimulated for Microbial Induced Calcite Precipitation (MICP).
ABSTRACT: Microbially induced calcite precipitation (MICP) is an alternative to existing soil stabilization techniques for construction and erosion. As with any biologically induced process in soils or aquifers, it is important to track changes in the microbial communities that occur as a result of the treatment. Our research assessed how native microbial communities developed in response to injections of reactants (dilute molasses as a carbon source; urea as a source of nitrogen and alkalinity) that promoted MICP in a shallow aquifer. Microbial community composition (16S rRNA gene) and ureolytic potential (ureC gene copy numbers) were also measured in groundwater and artificial sediment. Aquifer geochemistry showed evidence of sulfate reduction, nitrification, denitrification, ureolysis, and iron reduction during the treatment. The observed changes in geochemistry corresponded to microbial community succession in the groundwater and this matched parallel geophysical and mineralogical evidence of calcite precipitation in the aquifer. We detected an increase in the number of ureC genes in the microbial communities at the end of the injection period, suggesting an increase in the abundance of microbes possessing this gene as needed to hydrolyze urea and stimulate MICP. We identify geochemical and biological markers that highlight the microbial community response that can be used along with geophysical and geotechnical evidence to assess progress of MICP.
Project description:Although microbes are known to influence karst (carbonate) aquifer ecosystem-level processes, comparatively little information is available regarding the diversity of microbial activities that could influence water quality and geological modification. To assess microbial diversity in the context of aquifer geochemistry, we coupled 16S rRNA Sanger sequencing and 454 tag pyrosequencing to in situ microcosm experiments from wells that cross the transition from fresh to saline and sulfidic water in the Edwards Aquifer of central Texas, one of the largest karst aquifers in the United States. The distribution of microbial groups across the transition zone correlated with dissolved oxygen and sulfide concentration, and significant variations in community composition were explained by local carbonate geochemistry, specifically calcium concentration and alkalinity. The waters were supersaturated with respect to prevalent aquifer minerals, calcite and dolomite, but in situ microcosm experiments containing these minerals revealed significant mass loss from dissolution when colonized by microbes. Despite differences in cell density on the experimental surfaces, carbonate loss was greater from freshwater wells than saline, sulfidic wells. However, as cell density increased, which was correlated to and controlled by local geochemistry, dissolution rates decreased. Surface colonization by metabolically active cells promotes dissolution by creating local disequilibria between bulk aquifer fluids and mineral surfaces, but this also controls rates of karst aquifer modification. These results expand our understanding of microbial diversity in karst aquifers and emphasize the importance of evaluating active microbial processes that could affect carbonate weathering in the subsurface.
Project description:Soil stabilization involves methods used to turn unconsolidated and unstable soil into a stiffer, consolidated medium that could support engineered structures, alter permeability, change subsurface flow, or immobilize contamination through mineral precipitation. Among the variety of available methods carbonate precipitation is a very promising one, especially when it is being induced through common soil borne microbes (MICP - microbial induced carbonate precipitation). Such microbial mediated precipitation has the added benefit of not harming the environment as other methods can be environmentally detrimental. Carbonate precipitation, typically in the form of calcite, is a naturally occurring process that can be manipulated to deliver the expected soil strengthening results or permeability changes. This study investigates the ability of spectral induced polarization and shear-wave velocity for monitoring calcite driven soil strengthening processes. The results support the use of these geophysical methods as soil strengthening characterization and long term monitoring tools, which is a requirement for viable soil stabilization projects. Both tested methods are sensitive to calcite precipitation, with SIP offering additional information related to long term stability of precipitated carbonate. Carbonate precipitation has been confirmed with direct methods, such as direct sampling and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). This study advances our understanding of soil strengthening processes and permeability alterations, and is a crucial step for the use of geophysical methods as monitoring tools in microbial induced soil alterations through carbonate precipitation.
Project description:Mineral precipitation via microbial activity is a well-known process with applications in various fields. This relevance of microbially induced calcite precipitation (MICP) has pushed researchers to explore various naturally occurring MICP capable bacterial strains. The present study was performed to explore the efficiency of microbially induced calcite precipitation (MICP) via locally isolated bacterial strains and role of guar gum, which is a naturally occurring polymer, on the MICP process. The strains were isolated from local soil and screened for urease activity Further, the urease positive strain was subjected to urea and calcium chloride based medium to investigate the efficacy of isolated strain for microbial induced precipitation. Among screened isolates, the soil bacterium that showed urease positive behaviour and precipitated calcium carbonate was subjected to 16S rRNA gene sequencing. This strain was identified as Bacillus velezensis. Guar gum-a natural polymer, was used as a sole carbon source to enhance the MICP process. It was observed that the isolated strain was able to breakdown the guar gum into simple sugars resulting in two-fold increase in calcium carbonate precipitate. Major bio-chemical activities of isolated strain pertaining to MICP such as ammonium ion concentration, pH profiling, and total reducing sugar with time were explored under four different concentrations of guar gum (0.25%, 0.5%, 0.75% and 1% w/v). Maximum ammonium ion concentration (17.5 ?g/ml) and increased pH was observed with 1% guar gum supplementation, which confirms augmented MICP activity of the bacterial strain. Microstructural analysis of microbial precipitation was performed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and X-ray diffraction (XRD) techniques, which confirmed the presence of calcium carbonate in different phases. Further, XRD and SEM based studies corroborated that guar gum supplemented media showed significant increase in stable calcite phase as compared to media without guar gum supplementation. Significant diverse group of nitrogenous compounds were observed in guar gum supplemented medium when subjected to Gas Chromatography-Mass spectrometry (GC-MS) profiling.
Project description:Earthquakes are among the most destructive natural events. The 6 April 2009, 6.3-Mw earthquake in L'Aquila (Italy) markedly altered the karstic Gran Sasso Aquifer (GSA) hydrogeology and geochemistry. The GSA groundwater invertebrate community is mainly comprised of small-bodied, colourless, blind microcrustaceans. We compared abiotic and biotic data from two pre-earthquake and one post-earthquake complete but non-contiguous hydrological years to investigate the effects of the 2009 earthquake on the dominant copepod component of the obligate groundwater fauna. Our results suggest that the massive earthquake-induced aquifer strain biotriggered a flushing of groundwater fauna, with a dramatic decrease in subterranean species abundance. Population turnover rates appeared to have crashed, no longer replenishing the long-standing communities from aquifer fractures, and the aquifer became almost totally deprived of animal life. Groundwater communities are notorious for their low resilience. Therefore, any major disturbance that negatively impacts survival or reproduction may lead to local extinction of species, most of them being the only survivors of phylogenetic lineages extinct at the Earth surface. Given the ecological key role played by the subterranean fauna as decomposers of organic matter and "ecosystem engineers", we urge more detailed, long-term studies on the effect of major disturbances to groundwater ecosystems.
Project description:Microbial ecological processes are frequently studied in the presence of perturbations rather than in undisturbed environments, despite the relatively stable conditions dominating many microbial habitats. To examine processes influencing microbial community structuring in the absence of strong external perturbations, three unperturbed aquifers in Ohio (Greene, Licking, and Athens) were sampled over 2 years and analyzed using geochemical measurements, 16S rRNA gene sequencing, and ecological modeling. Redox conditions ranging from highly reducing to more oxidizing distinguished aquifer geochemistry across the three locations. Distinct microbial communities were present in each aquifer, and overall community structure was related to geochemistry, although community composition was more similar between the Athens and Licking locations. The ecological processes acting upon microbial assemblages within aquifers were varied; geochemical changes affected the Athens location, while time or some unknown factor affected Greene County. Stochastic processes, however, dominated the Licking aquifer, suggesting a decoupling between environmental fluctuations and community development. Although physicochemical differences might be expected to drive variable selection, dispersal limitation (inability to mix) explained differences between Athens and Licking. Finally, community complexity as measured by "cohesion" indicated that less-interconnected communities experienced higher turnover and were more likely to be affected by stochastic processes. Conversely, more-interconnected communities experienced lower turnover and susceptibility to homogenizing selection. Based upon these data, we support the hypothesis that unperturbed environments house dynamic microbial communities due to external and internal forces. IMPORTANCE Many microbial ecology studies have examined community structuring processes in dynamic or perturbed situations, while stable environments have been investigated to a lesser extent. Researchers have predicted that environmental communities never truly reach a steady state but rather exist in states of constant flux due to internal, rather than external, dynamics. The research presented here utilized a combined null model approach to examine the deterministic and stochastic processes responsible for observed community differences in unperturbed, groundwater ecosystems. Additionally, internal dynamics were investigated by relating a recently published measure of community complexity (cohesion) to ecological structuring processes. The data presented here suggest that communities that are more cohesive, and therefore more complex, are more likely affected by homogenizing selection, while less-complex communities are more susceptible to dispersal. By understanding the relationship between internal dynamics and community structuring processes, insight about microbial population development in natural systems can be obtained.
Project description:Microbial-Induced Calcite Precipitation (MICP) stimulates soil microbiota to induce a cementation of the soil matrix. Urea, calcium and simple carbon nutrients are supplied to produce carbonates via urea hydrolysis and induce the precipitation of the mineral calcite. Calcium chloride (CaCl2) is typically used as a source for calcium, but basic silicate rocks and other materials have been investigated as alternatives. Weathering of calcium-rich silicate rocks (e.g., basalt and dolerite) releases calcium, magnesium and iron; this process is associated with sequestration of atmospheric CO2 and formation of pedogenic carbonates. We investigated atmospheric carbon fluxes of a MICP treated sandy soil using CaCl2 and dolerite fines applied on the soil surface as sources for calcium. Soil-atmosphere carbon fluxes were monitored over 2 months and determined with an infrared gas analyser connected to a soil chamber. Soil inorganic carbon content and isotopic composition were determined with isotope-ratio mass spectrometry. In addition, soil-atmosphere CO2 fluxes during chemical weathering of dolerite fines were investigated in incubation experiments with gas chromatography. Larger CO2 emissions resulted from the application of dolerite fines (116 g CO2-C m-2) compared to CaCl2 (79 g CO2-C m-2) but larger inorganic carbon precipitation also occurred (172.8 and 76.9 g C m-2, respectively). Normalising to the emitted carbon to precipitated carbon, the environmental carbon cost was reduced with dolerite fines (0.67) compared to the traditional MICP treatment (1.01). The carbon isotopic signature indicated pedogenic carbonates (?13Cav = -8.2 ± 5.0‰) formed when dolerite was applied and carbon originating from urea (?13Cav = -46.4 ± 1.0‰) precipitated when CaCl2 was used. Dolerite fines had a large but short-lived (<2 d) carbon sequestration potential, and results indicated peak CO2 emissions during MICP could be balanced optimising the application of dolerite fines.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The ureolytic bacterium Sporosarcina pasteurii is well-known for its capability of microbially induced calcite precipitation (MICP), representing a great potential in constructional engineering and material applications. However, the molecular mechanism for its biomineralization remains unresolved, as few studies were carried out. RESULTS:The addition of urea into the culture medium provided an alkaline environment that is suitable for S. pasteurii. As compared to S. pasteurii cultivated without urea, S. pasteurii grown with urea showed faster growth and urease production, better shape, more negative surface charge and higher biomineralization ability. To survive the unfavorable growth environment due to the absence of urea, S. pasteurii up-regulated the expression of genes involved in urease production, ATPase synthesis and flagella, possibly occupying resources that can be deployed for MICP. As compared to non-mineralizing bacteria, S. pasteurii exhibited more negative cell surface charge for binding calcium ions and more robust cell structure as nucleation sites. During MICP process, the genes for ATPase synthesis in S. pasteurii was up-regulated while genes for urease production were unchanged. Interestingly, genes involved in flagella were down-regulated during MICP, which might lead to poor mobility of S. pasteurii. Meanwhile, genes in fatty acid degradation pathway were inhibited to maintain the intact cell structure found in calcite precipitation. Both weak mobility and intact cell structure are advantageous for S. pasteurii to serve as nucleation sites during MICP. CONCLUSIONS:Four factors are demonstrated to benefit the super performance of S. pasteurii in MICP. First, the good correlation of biomass growth and urease production of S. pasteurii provides sufficient biomass and urease simultaneously for improved biomineralization. Second, the highly negative cell surface charge of S. pasteurii is good for binding calcium ions. Third, the robust cell structure and fourth, the weak mobility, are key for S. pasteurii to be nucleation sites during MICP.
Project description:Despite intensive studies of microbial-community diversity, the questions of which kinds of microbial populations are associated with changes in community diversity have not yet been fully solved by molecular approaches. In this study, to investigate the impact of livestock wastewater on changes in the bacterial communities in groundwater, bacterial communities in subsurface aquifers were analyzed by characterizing their 16S rDNA sequences. The similarity coefficients of restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) patterns of the cloned 16S ribosomal DNAs showed that the bacterial communities in livestock wastewater samples were more closely related to those in contaminated aquifer samples. In addition, calculations of community diversity clearly showed that bacterial communities in the livestock wastewater and the contaminated aquifer were much more diverse than those in the uncontaminated aquifer. Thus, the increase in bacterial-community diversity in the contaminated aquifer was assumed to be due to the infiltration of livestock wastewater, containing high concentrations of diverse microbial flora, into the aquifer. Phylogenetic analysis of the sequences from a subset of the RFLP patterns showed that the Cytophaga-Flexibacter-Bacteroides and low-G+C gram-positive groups originating from livestock wastewater were responsible for the change in the bacterial community in groundwater. This was evidenced by the occurrence of rumen-related sequences not only in the livestock wastewater samples but also in the contaminated-groundwater samples. Rumen-related sequences, therefore, can be used as indicator sequences for fecal contamination of groundwater, particularly from livestock.
Project description:Low-salinity submarine groundwater contained within continental shelves is a global phenomenon. Mechanisms for emplacing offshore groundwater include glacial processes that drove water into exposed continental shelves during sea-level low stands and active connections to onshore hydrologic systems. While low-salinity groundwater is thought to be abundant, its distribution and volume worldwide is poorly understood due to the limited number of observations. Here we image laterally continuous aquifers extending 90 km offshore New Jersey and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, on the U.S. Atlantic margin using new shallow water electromagnetic geophysical methods. Our data provide more continuous constraints on offshore groundwater than previous models and present evidence for a connection between the modern onshore hydrologic system and offshore aquifers. We identify clinoforms as a previously unknown structural control on the lateral extent of low-salinity groundwater and potentially a control on where low-salinity water rises into the seafloor. Our data suggest a continuous submarine aquifer system spans at least 350 km of the U.S. Atlantic coast and contains about 2800 km3 of low-salinity groundwater. Our findings can be used to improve models of past glacial, eustatic, tectonic, and geomorphic processes on continental shelves and provide insight into shelf geochemistry, biogeochemical cycles, and the deep biosphere.
Project description:Bio-grout, a new ground improvement method, has been recently developed to improve the mechanical properties, decrease the permeability of porous materials, reinforce or repair cementitious materials and modify the properties of soil or sand. Bio-grout production depends on microbially induced calcite precipitation (MICP), which is driven mainly by an enzyme, urease. However, urease-based MICP process produces excessive ammonia, in addition to secondary pollution generated by urea that is used as substrate in it. In the present study, we reported asparaginase-based MICP process for sand bio-grout development using Bacillus megaterium, and results were also compared with urease-based bio-grouts. The asparaginase activity led to significantly less ammonia production compared to urease without compromising with desired properties of a novel grout. The UCS of bio-grout was obtained at 980 kPa, while the permeability was decreased substantially. The mineralogical composition of precipitated substance was identified as calcite using XRD and the crystal morphology was observed under SEM. The mass percentage of calcite in bio-grout was calculated by thermogravimetric analysis and XCT verified calcite precipitation in it. The results confirmed that biocalcification by means of bacterial asparaginase is a potential solution for geotechnical problems. The asparaginase-based MICP process could be of wider acceptance in future.