UIS Commission on Karst Hydrogeology and Speleogenesis
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Banerjee, Subhro; Joshi, S.R.
Insights into cave architecture and the role of bacterial biofilm
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., India, Sect. B Biol. Sci.

Caves offer a stable and protected environment from harsh and changing outside conditions. They lend living proof of the presence of minute life forms that delve deep within the earth’s crust where the possibility of life seems impossible. Devoid of all light sources and lacking the most common source of energy supplied through photosynthesis, the mysterious microbial kingdom in caves are consequently dependent upon alternative sources of energy derived from the surrounding atmosphere, minerals and rocks. There are a number of features that can be observed within a cave that may serve as evidence of microbial activity, for example, formation of biofilms comprised of multiple layers of microbial communities held together by protective gel-like polymers which form complex structures. Different bacterial biofilms can develop on the walls of the cave which can be visually distinguished by their colorations. Moreover, the pH generated by the metabolism of bacterial biofilm on the cave environment can lead to precipitation or dissolution of minerals in caves. Caves also offer an excellent scenario for studying biomineralization processes. The findings on the association of bacteria with secondary minerals as mentioned in this review will help to expand the existing knowledge in geomicrobiology and specifically on the influence of microorganisms in the formation of cave deposits. This paper reviews the current state of knowledge of biospeleology of caves and the associated bacterial biofilms. Recommendations for future research are mentioned to encourage a drift from qualitative studies to more experimental studies.

Cave environment; Bacteria; Biofilm; Mineral precipitation; Geomicrobiology
Banerjee, Subhro; Joshi, S.R., 2013, Insights into cave architecture and the role of bacterial biofilm , 1 - 16 http://www.researchgate.net/publication/257808608_Insights_into_Cave_Architecture_and_the_Role_of_Bacterial_Biofilm, PDF