(ORDO NEWS) — Analysis of the DNA of microbial communities allows us to understand how water flows in a particular area. It is reported by the University of Basel.
Looking at a river or an underground well, it is difficult to understand what feeds it. Many streams and underground springs can flow into it, just as a river can feed an underground reservoir. This scheme becomes even more confusing due to anthropogenic activities.
Oliver Schilling and his colleagues have developed a technology for mapping water flows, tracking the spread of microbes through their DNA.
The vicinity of Mount Fuji in Japan was chosen as one of the experimental sites. “The geological structure of Mount Fuji is unique because it is the only place where three tectonic plates converge.
This makes the groundwater system very complex and therefore ill-suited for research using standard methods,” explains the scientist.
The idea arose after biologists found DNA signatures in one of the sources near the mountain, indicating a microbial community that can only exist at depths of 500-1000 meters. This was an indication that some of the water was coming from deep underground reservoirs.
Thanks to this method, the study of groundwater systems around the world becomes much easier.
In Switzerland, for example, it can be used to find out where the water that is pumped out of the ground for drinking comes from.
“The high amount of DNA from cold-loving microbes in groundwater, for example, indicates that meltwater from snow and glaciers makes up a significant portion of groundwater,” explains Schilling.
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