Life in North Wales mines

Some interesting results from PARMIN to date, with novel cultured and uncultured microbes. More sampling is required to build upon the current picture of microbial diversity in Parys mine, which appears greater than previously thought. While pyrite and quartz dominate at Parys, other minerals are also present, albeit more sparsely, and are more difficult to find. One location is shown below, where small iron-oxide crystals are side by side with crystals containing high concentrations of aluminium.

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Fe-oxide and aluminium-containing crystals underground at Parys mine

DNA amplification is possible from the majority of Parys samples thus far, however microscopy shows that, in at least some samples, individual cells are impossible to identify. One of my favourite images of last week is this SEM of mellanterite from Cae Coch. Close-up images of individual crystals reveal the presence of rod-like structures which appear to be prokaryotes based on size and carbon signal. Other SEM images of Parys minerals may be seen on the SEM page.

mellanterite from Cae Coch

SEM image of Cae Coch mellanterite

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