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106 Groundwater Microbial Communities

Part 9. Ecological and Hydrological Interactions

  1. James P McKinley1,
  2. James K Fredrickson2,
  3. Frederick S Colwell3

Published Online: 15 APR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa111a

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

How to Cite

McKinley, J. P., Fredrickson, J. K. and Colwell, F. S. 2006. Groundwater Microbial Communities. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 9:106.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Chemical Sciences Division, Richland, WA, US

  2. 2

    Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Biological Sciences Division, Richland, WA, US

  3. 3

    Idaho National Laboratory, Biological Sciences Division, Idaho Falls, ID, US

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2006


Microbial communities in aquifers consist of diverse interactive individuals which break down complex organic matter for metabolic energy. Microbes are adapted to function over environmental conditions ranging from freezing to boiling, acidic to alkaline. They can use oxygen as a reducible metabolite during organic carbon oxidation, but, since oxygen is rapidly depleted in subsurface environments, different groups of organisms may also rely upon other compounds such as reducible metals or upon fermentation. Community members are interdependent, but compete for resources, and communities often have predominant groups that rely on recognizable chemical pathways such as sulfate reduction. The predominant group varies spatially and temporally, as the available nutrients change or are depleted.


  • groundwater;
  • microbes;
  • microbial communities;
  • terminal electron accepting processes