Microbial life in volcanic lakes

Francesca Mapelli, Ramona Marasco, Eleonora Rolli, Daniele Daffonchio, Stuart Donachie, Sara Borin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Lakes in the craters of active volcanoes and their related streams are often characterised by conditions considered extreme for life, such as high temperatures, low pH and very high concentrations of dissolved metals and minerals. Such lakes tend to be transient features whose geochemistry can change markedly over short time periods. They might also vanish completely during eruption episodes or by drainage through the crater wall or floor. These lakes and their effluent streams and springs host taxonomically and metabolically diverse microorganisms belonging in the Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya. In volcanic ecosystems the relation between geosphere and biosphere is particularly tight; microbial community diversity is shaped by the geochemical parameters of the lake, and by the activities of microbes interacting with the water and sediments. Sampling these lakes is often challenging, and few have even been sampled once, especially in a microbiological context. Developments in high-throughput cultivation procedures, single-cell selection techniques, and massive increases in DNA sequencing throughput, should encourage efforts to define which microbes inhabit these features and how they interact wiTheach other and the volcano. The study of microbial communities in volcanic lake systems sheds light on possible origins of life on early Earth, or on extraterrestrial systems. Other potential outcomes include the development of microbial inocula to promote plant growth in altered or degraded soils, bioremediation of contaminated waste or land, and the discovery of enzymes or other proteins with industrial or medical applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationVolcanic Lakes
PublisherSpringer Berlin Heidelberg
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783642368332
ISBN (Print)9783642368325
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Extremophiles
  • Microbial communities
  • Microbial diversity
  • Volcanic lake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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