The underwater environment of Grotta Giusti (Monsummano Terme, Italy) is a suggestive setting with different types of speleothems including “leafy” and “cauliflower” concretions along the walls and roof, and conical pseudo-stalagmites on the floor. Very high calcium and dissolved CO2 levels, and massive calcium carbonate precipitation characterize this cave environment. Yet, life thrives on the leafy concretion surfaces with loads of cultivable heterotrophic microorganisms around 105 colony-forming units per cm2. Bacillus licheniformis appeared to be the prevalent cultivable microorganism on a low-nutrient medium that was used for screening. 16S rRNA gene-based polymerase chain reaction–single strand conformation polymorphism profiling indicated that Group VI Bacillaceae species was well represented in the bacterial community of underwater speleothems. Interpretation of X-ray diffraction spectra and Raman spectroscopy data indicated that the B. licheniformis isolate produced in vitro abundant calcite microcrystals that were also characterized by scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. Production of calcite microcrystals was analyzed in different media (Christensen’s urea agar and B4 calcium carbonate precipitation medium) and incubation conditions, and it was found to be enhanced by nitrate supplement in B4 medium under low-oxygen conditions. B4 and B4-nitrate media also stimulated antibiotic production by the B. licheniformis isolate, which was analyzed by microbiological assays.
Tredici, Salvatore Maurizio;Buccolieri, Alessandro;Calcagnile, Matteo;Manno, Daniela;Alifano, Pietro
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