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Biofilm biodiversity in French and Swiss show caves using the metabarcoding approach: First data

Pfendler, Stéphane, Karimi, Battle, Maron, Pierre-Alain, Ciadamidaro, Lisa, Valot, Benoît, Bousta, Faisl, Alaoui-Sosse, Laurence, Alaoui-Sosse, Badr, Aleya, Lotfi
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.615 pp. 1207-1217
Ascomycota, Bacillariophyceae, Basidiomycota, Chlorophyceae, Cyanobacteria, DNA barcoding, Eustigmatophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae, Zygomycota, aesthetics, bacteria, biodiversity, biofilm, caves, chemical degradation, community structure, fungi, limestone, microalgae, microbial communities, microscopy, mosses and liverworts, photosynthesis
In recent decades, show caves have begun to suffer from microorganism proliferation due to artificial lighting installations for touristic activity. In addition to the aesthetic problem, light encourages microorganisms that are responsible for physical and chemical degradation of limestone walls, speleothems and prehistoric paintings of cultural value. Microorganisms have previously been described by microscopy or culture-dependent methods, but data provided by new generation sequencing are rare. The authors identified, for the first time, microorganisms proliferating in one Swiss and in four French show caves using three different primers. The results showed that both photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic bacteria were the dominant taxa present in biofilms. Microalgae were heavily represented by the Trebouxiophyceae, Eustigmatophyceae and Chlorophyceae groups. Twelve diatoms were also recorded, with dominance of Syntrichia sp. (96.1%). Fungi were predominantly represented by Ascomycota, Zygomycota and Basidiomycota, fully half of the sampled biofilms where Fungi were detected. Comparing microbial communities from bleach-treated caves to those in untreated caves showed no significant difference except for a low-level change in the abundance of certain taxa. These findings provided by Illumina sequencing reveal a complex community structure in the 5 caves based on the assembly of bacteria, cyanobacteria, algae, diatoms, fungi and mosses.