Nematode-bacteria associations are one of the most common associations occurring in nearly every environment on the planet. Poorly studied environments, such as those considered extreme, like hot springs, deserts, tundra and caves remain a rich reservoir of biodiversity. In this study, three habitats were sampled; mud and guano along the Big Room trail and a soil sample taken above the Cave.
Collected nematodes were first identified by trophic group by examining morphology of the buccal structures. All collected isolates were considered to be in the bacteriovore trophic level. Nematodes were cultured on baby food agar (Stock, 2001). Differential interference microscopy was used to achieve a “rough” identification. For identification to the species level, analysis of the 18S rRNA gene was performed.
Based on morphological characteristics, we determined that there were two distinct species in Kartchner; one isolated from mud samples, and another from guano samples. Both isolates belong to the genus Rhabditis Maupas (Nematoda: Thabditdae) (Figures 1 and 2).
The sample from soil above the Cave represents a member of the genus Acrobeloides (Family Cephalobidae) (Figure 3). Thus, the nematodes within Kartchner are different from those recovered outside Kartchner.