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Identification and Comparison of Microbial Diversity in Azorean Lava Tubes according to Human Impact

Tecnologias Alimentares e Saúde

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Referência

Riquelme, C., Hathaway, J.M.M., Dapkevicius, M.L.N.E., & Northup, D.E. (2011) Identification and Comparison of Microbial Diversity in Azorean Lava Tubes according to Human Impact. 4th Congress of European Microbiologists – FEMS 2011

Resumo

Lava tubes exhibit stunning microbial mats worldwide, contributing significantly to their attractiveness to human visitors. Very little attention has been given to microbial biodiversity and the role that microbial members might play in this subsurface environment. Considering the large number of caves found in the Azores archipelago – 271 caves under four categories of Rank A, B, C and D, the Government of Azores has initiated a proposal for submission of a few selected caves to UNESCO for inscribing under the UNESCO World Heritage List. The selection criteria for inclusion of the caves in the list was based on the scientific value, tourism prospects, approach conditions, perceived threats, data base and conservation standing. Caves and volcanic pits are key touristic attractions in the Azores and ecosystem alterations are expected due to human visitation (Northup, 2009).There are five show caves in the archipelago (Gruta do Natal, Gruta das Torres, Algar do Carvão, Gruta do Carvão e Furna do Enxofre), three of them located in Terceira and Pico islands, where more than 70% of the Azorean caves are located.  Gruta das Torres is located on the western flanks of the island of Pico and has been open to the public since 2005. The first 450 meters of Gruta das Torres are accessible to visitors accompanied by a guide. Visitors are allowed in groups of 15 at a time and each visitor is provided with a protective gear of a helmet fitted with lamps to see the dark interior. Algar do Carvão, in Terceira, is the most visited volcanic cave in the Azores with 22,000 people visiting in 2009. In 1968 was first opened to visitors, illuminated by hand or helmets lamps.  In 1987 a first lighting system fixed in the interior was assembled, powered by a generator until nowadays. Gruta de Natal’s firstly opened in 1969 for a mass celebration. Show cave managements include artificial lighting. In order to determine the diversity within these lava tubes, and to infer whether human impact can influence the microbial diversity, 16S rRNA gene clone libraries were constructed and sequence analysis and comparison of communities was analyzed from three show caves and four low human usage ones. Conserving microbial diversity is fundamental to maintenance and conservation of global genetic resources. Measures must be taken to describe, estimate, record, and conserve microbial diversity, not only to sustain human health but also to enrich the human condition globally through wise use and conservation of genetic resources of the microbial world

 

 

Domingo, 26 Junho, 2011

Equipa

Maria de Lurdes Nunes Enes Dapkevicius
Membro Integrado com contrato
Cristina Riquelme Gabriel
Investigador Colaborador (Outros)

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