The relationship between physical and chemical conditions and low microbial diversity in the Blue Lagoon geothermal lake in Iceland

Authors: Petursdottir SK (1) , Kristjansson JK (2)
(1) Department of Biotechnology, Technological Institute of Iceland (2) Institute of Biology, University of Iceland
Source: FEMS Microbiology Ecology Volume 19, Issue 1, January 1996, Pages 39-45
DOI: 10.1016/0168-6496(95)00077-1 Publication date: 1996 Jan E-Publication date: March 1, 1999 Availability: abstract Copyright: © 1996 Published by Elsevier B.V.
Language: English Countries: Iceland Location: Blue Lagoon Correspondence address: Not specified


Article abstract

The Blue Lagoon in Iceland is a shallow geothermal lake with average temperatures of 37°C, pH 7.5 and about 2.5% salinity. It was formed in 1976 from the effluents of the Svartsengi geothermal power plant and is saturated with silica which constantly precipitates in the lake. It has been colonized by a few types of specialized microorganisms which seem to proliferate in this unusual ecosystem. The average bacterial colony count in the lake was 1.3 × 105 ml−1 on plate count agar made with 50% Blue Lagoon fluid but 2.6 × 106 ml−1 when determined with the MPN method. A total of 99 isolates were purified and characterized by 54 phenotypic tests and then grouped using Numerical Taxonomy. At similarity values of 80%, one major cluster was formed containing 85% of the isolates. Four representative strains from this cluster were further characterized and all shown to be Gram-negative, obligately aerobic, non-motile rods. They were oxidase positive, catalase negative and grew optimally at 45°C and in 3.5% NaCl with doubling time of about 80 min.

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