Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 68 Number 2: 43-54 - August 2006

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Introduction to cave microbiology: A review for the non-specialist
Hazel A. Barton


Within the past decade there has been an increasing interest in cave microbiota. Such interest has helped many speleologists both recognize and understand the importance of microbial species in caves, which has led to improvements in cave conservation practices to better conserve these unseen ecosystems. While much information on the metabolic properties and functions of such subterranean ecosystems has been published in the microbial ecology literature, is it sometimes unusable by the non-specialist due to technical “jargon” and unexplained background information. It is the aim of this review to provide such background information and to explain the current technologies available to study cave microbiota. In doing so, it is hoped that this material will make the microbiology literature more accessible to interested non-specialists, and open new areas of inquiry in the study of microbial-mineral interactions.

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