Scientists diving underground into the vast labyrinth of the karst network of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico discovered a surprising microbial diversity that was not previously suspected.

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If the Yucatán Peninsula is known for hosting the Chicxulub crater, witness to the asteroid impact that caused the dinosaurs to disappear, this region of Mexico is also famous for its karst network, punctuated by the famous cenotes, deep in There are flood ditches that open up. Limestone landscape. Below ground, there are numerous submerged galleries forming a vast and complex labyrinth of which only a small part has been mapped. However, this amazing environment shrouded in darkness is not devoid of life.

Over 900 different microbial communities

A sample collection expedition has made it possible to establish the tremendous diversity of organisms that actually live there. The researchers identified 917 different families of microbes, each of which presented specialties linked to their habitat. Because this environment presents surprisingly variable conditions throughout the galleries, whether related to water salinity, temperature, acidity or light supply. Thus each microbial community appears to belong to a very specific area, each playing a very specific role in this complex ecosystem. Scientists have thus shed light on the existing interactions between these different communities, but also on their impact on the chemistry of the water. The results of this study were published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology And reveals the need to protect this unique and vulnerable environment.

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