, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 407–431 | Cite as

Biofilm formation and potential for iron cycling in serpentinization-influenced groundwater of the Zambales and Coast Range ophiolites

  • D’Arcy R. Meyer-Dombard
  • Caitlin P. Casar
  • Alexander G. Simon
  • Dawn Cardace
  • Matthew O. Schrenk
  • Carlo A. Arcilla
Original Paper


Terrestrial serpentinizing systems harbor microbial subsurface life. Passive or active microbially mediated iron transformations at alkaline conditions in deep biosphere serpentinizing ecosystems are understudied. We explore these processes in the Zambales (Philippines) and Coast Range (CA, USA) ophiolites, and associated surface ecosystems by probing the relevance of samples acquired at the surface to in situ, subsurface ecosystems, and the nature of microbe–mineral associations in the subsurface. In this pilot study, we use microcosm experiments and batch culturing directed at iron redox transformations to confirm thermodynamically based predictions that iron transformations may be important in subsurface serpentinizing ecosystems. Biofilms formed on rock cores from the Zambales ophiolite on surface and in-pit associations, confirming that organisms from serpentinizing systems can form biofilms in subsurface environments. Analysis by XPS and FTIR confirmed that enrichment culturing utilizing ferric iron growth substrates produced reduced, magnetic solids containing siderite, spinels, and FeO minerals. Microcosms and enrichment cultures supported organisms whose near relatives participate in iron redox transformations. Further, a potential ‘principal’ microbial community common to solid samples in serpentinizing systems was identified. These results indicate collectively that iron redox transformations should be more thoroughly and universally considered when assessing the function of terrestrial subsurface ecosystems driven by serpentinization.


Serpentinization Deep subsurface biosphere Biofilms Microbe–mineral interaction Iron cycling Zambales ophiolite CROMO 



This work would not have been possible without the generous support of NSF Grant #s 1147334 and 1146910 to DRMD and DC, respectively. Further funding was awarded to DRMD by the Illinois Space Grant Consortium in support of student research. Student travel funding was awarded to CPC (Knourek Scholarship). The authors would like to acknowledge Gamaliel Lysander Benig Cabria, Bharathi Vallalar, Kristin Woycheese, Karmina Aquino, Jeffrey Munar, and Emmanuel Codillo for their tireless efforts in the field. The authors would like to further thank Drs. S. Guggenheim and F. Kenig for guidance, and Dr. S. Green, Olivia Thompson, Tad Daniel, and Ankur Naqib for technical and analytical support. This is EDGElab contribution #4.

Supplementary material

792_2018_1005_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (14.8 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 15198 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • D’Arcy R. Meyer-Dombard
    • 1
  • Caitlin P. Casar
    • 1
  • Alexander G. Simon
    • 1
  • Dawn Cardace
    • 2
  • Matthew O. Schrenk
    • 3
    • 4
  • Carlo A. Arcilla
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeosciencesUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  4. 4.Department of Microbiology and Molecular GeneticsMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  5. 5.National Institute of Geological Sciences, University of the Philippines, DilimanQuezon CityPhilippines

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