Alexandra Hillebrand-Voiculescu

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Movile Protists (Movile Cave)

Dr. Alexandra Hillebrand-Voiculescu; Emil Racoviţă Institute of Speleology, Romanian Academy – Bucharest, Romania

Host: Dr. Purificación López-García;
          Unity of Ecology, Systematics and Evolution (ESE, CNRS UMR8079), Paris-Sud University – Orsay, France
Period: November, the 14th to 22nd, 2015;

As a biochemist, working in Bucharest (Romania) as a senior researcher at the Emil Racoviţă Institute of Speleology of the Romanian Academy (ERIS) and also as member of the Group for Underwater and Speleological Exploration – an environmental ngo – my main scientific interest is focused on underground and aquatic ecosystems.
Presently, I am studying the microbial communities entrapped in the ice block of the underground glacier of Scărişoara Ice Cave as well as the microbiota of Movile Cave, a chemosynthesis based ecosystem. It is this ecosystem that made the subject of the STSM entitled Movile Protists (November, the 14th to 22nd), that initiated a collaboration between ERIS and the Unity of Ecology, Systematics and Evolution (ESE, CNRS UMR8079) at the Paris-Sud University (Orsay, France) represented by Dr. Purificación López-García.
Since among the micro fauna of Movile Cave, protists have been largely neglected since the cave discovery back in 1986, we decided to start investigating them. For this purpose, during the STSM, DNA was isolated from microbial biofilm, water and sediment samples collected from Movile Cave and specific 18S rRNA sequences were amplified by PCR. Cultures were set by inoculating cave water with sediment and biofilm. Microscopic analysis of the samples was also performed. Promising results were obtained that opened new directions of research, enabling us to continue this collaboration.






CSO Approval date: 14/11/2013
Starting date: 15/05/2014
Ending date: 14/05/2018

Action Chair:
Dr. Muriel GARGAUD (FR)

Vice chair:
Prof. Wolf GEPPERT (SE)

STSM Manager:
Prof. Nigel MASON (UK)

Web Manager:



Grant Holder Financial Representative:

Mrs Annick Caperan

Science Officer:
Dr. Mafalda QUINTAS

Administrative Officer:
Ms Ange Marie Ina Uwase



A Trans-Domain Action supported by COST.

COST is supported by the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020



Involved countries

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Participating Countries
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

COST International Partner Countries
Canada (UQAM), South Africa (Univ. of Johanesburgh), Russian Federation (Institute of Geology, Petrozavodsk), Australia (University of Sydney), United States of America (University of Hawai)

Specific Organisations
European Space Agency (ESA)

Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs)

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The life-Origins COST Project

Life-ORIGINS (TD1308) is a Trans Domain European COST Action dedicated to the scientific investigation of the origins and evolution of life on Earth and habitability of other planets.

The Action has specifically excluded the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life in its portfolio. Creationist theorems are also outside the Action’s remit.

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