Isolation and characterization of halophilic-arsenic resistant microorganisms from a shallow hydrothermal system

Internship position (12 ECTS)
Marine hydrothermal vents act as a window into the Earth’s subsurface and provide multiple linkages between the bio- and geosphere by releasing both, thermal waters and gas bubbles through open fractures in the rocks or the sandy seafloor. The prevailing high-temperature water–rock interactions often result in fluids of high salt concentrations loaded with heavy metals that can either precipitate around the vents or are transported as dissolved ions. These high temperatures and unusual chemical conditions make shallow-water hydrothermal vents most pronounced extreme environments, which are prohibitive for most higher organisms. However, adapted archaea and bacteria capable of specific nutritional pathways are detected at these unique environments, where the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of temperature and geochemical parameters results in the formation of versatile ecological niches. Microorganisms contained in hydrothermal fluids and sediments mainly belong to the group of thermophiles and hyperthermophiles, whose genomes and biomolecules have been adapted to the extreme conditions, and with a general community distribution and structure that is strongly affected by temperature, trace metals, oxygen concentration and substrate availability. The goal of the internship will be focused on the isolation and characterization of thermophilic organisms which are resistant to high loads of arsenic. In order to achieve these objectives the candidate will perform microbiological culturing of extremophiles, trace metal/metalloids quantification by inductively coupled plasma‐mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and basic approaches in scattering electron microscopy (SEM) for cell integrity studies.
basic knowledge in microbiological culturing techniques
Number of students: 
academic year: 
Contact person email: 
contact person first name: 
contact person last name: 
Other people involved: 
Vicente Duran Toro, PhD student in the Hydrothermal Geomicrobiology group
Reference Number: RP-48651