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Molecular analysis of bacterial diversity in kerosene-based drilling fluid from the deep ice borehole at Vostok, East Antarctica

Abstract : Decontamination of ice cores is a critical issue in phylogenetic studies of glacial ice and subglacial lakes. At the Vostok drill site, a total of 3650 m of ice core have now been obtained from the East Antarctic ice sheet. The ice core surface is coated with a hard-to-remove film of impure drilling fluid comprising a mixture of aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons and foranes. In the present study we used 16S rRNA gene sequencing to analyze the bacterial content of the Vostok drilling fluid sampled from four depths in the borehole. Six phylotypes were identified in three of four samples studied. The two dominant phylotypes recovered from the deepest (3400 and 3600 m) and comparatively warm (−10°C and −6°C, respectively) borehole horizons were from within the genus Sphingomonas, a well-known degrader of polyaromatic hydrocarbons. The remaining phylotypes encountered in all samples proved to be human- or soil-associated bacteria and were presumed to be drilling fluid contaminants of rare occurrence. The results obtained indicate the persistence of bacteria in extremely cold, hydrocarbon-rich environments. They show the potential for contamination of ice and subglacial water samples during lake exploration, and the need to develop a microbiological database of drilling fluid findings.
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Submitted on : Thursday, April 16, 2009 - 11:57:32 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 4:14:16 AM

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Irina A. Alekhina, Dominique Marie, Jean Robert Petit, Valery V. Lukin, Vladimir M. Zubkov, et al.. Molecular analysis of bacterial diversity in kerosene-based drilling fluid from the deep ice borehole at Vostok, East Antarctica. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, Wiley-Blackwell, 2007, 59 (2), pp.289 à 299. ⟨10.1111/j.1574-6941.2006.00271.x⟩. ⟨insu-00375863⟩

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