Radioactive environment adapted bacterial communities constituting the biofilms of hydrothermal spring caves (Budapest, Hungary)

Nóra Tünde Enyedi, Dóra Anda, A. Borsodi, Attila Szabó, Sára Eszter Pál, M. Óvári, K. Márialigeti, Petra Kovács-Bodor, Judit Mádl-Szőnyi, Judit Makk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


The thermal waters of Gellért Hill discharge area of the Buda Thermal Karst System (Hungary) are characterized by high (up to 1000 Bq/L) 222 Rn-activity due to the radium-accumulating biogeochemical layers. Samples were taken from these ferruginous and calcareous layers developed on spring cave walls and water surface. Accumulation of potentially toxic metals (e.g. As, Hg, Pb, Sn, Sr, Zn) in the dense extracellular polymeric substance containing bacterial cells and remains was detected by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The comparison of bacterial phylogenetic diversity of the biofilm samples was performed by high throughput next generation sequencing (NGS). The analysis showed similar sets of mainly unidentified taxa of phyla Chloroflexi, Nitrospirae, Proteobacteria, Planctomycetes; however, large differences were found in their abundance. Cultivation-based method complemented with irradiation assay was performed using 5, 10 and 15 kGy doses of gamma-rays from a 60 Co-source to reveal the extreme radiation-resistant bacteria. The phyla Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, Proteobacteria (classes Alpha- Beta- and Gammaproteobacteria), Bacteriodetes and Deinococcus-Thermus were represented among the 452 bacterial strains. The applied irradiation treatments promoted the isolation of 100 different species, involving candidate novel species, as well. The vast majority of the isolates belonged to bacterial taxa previously unknown as radiation-resistant microorganisms. Members of the genera Paracoccus, Marmoricola, Dermacoccus and Kytococcus were identified from the 15 kGy dose irradiated samples. The close relatives of several known radiation-tolerant bacteria were also detected from the biofilm samples, alongside with bacteria capable of detoxification by metal accumulation, adsorption and precipitation in the form of calcium-carbonate which possibly maintain the viability of the habitat. The results suggest the establishment of a unique, extremophilic microbiota in the studied hydrothermal spring caves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-17
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Environmental Radioactivity
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2019


  • Biofilm
  • High level radioactivity
  • Radiation-resistant bacteria
  • Thermal spring
  • Toxic metals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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