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Title: Exploring Biogeochemistry and Microbial Diversity of Extant Microbialites in Mexico and Cuba

Microbialites are modern analogs of ancient microbial consortia that date as far back as the Archaean Eon. Microbialites have contributed to the geochemical history of our planet through their diverse metabolic capacities that mediate mineral precipitation. These mineral-forming microbial assemblages accumulate major ions, trace elements and biomass from their ambient aquatic environments; their role in the resulting chemical structure of these lithifications needs clarification. We studied the biogeochemistry and microbial structure of microbialites collected from diverse locations in Mexico and in a previously undescribed microbialite in Cuba. We examined their structure, chemistry and mineralogy at different scales using an array of nested methods including 16S rRNA gene high-throughput sequencing, elemental analysis, X-Ray fluorescence (XRF), X-Ray diffraction (XRD), Scanning Electron Microscopy-Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS), Fourier Transformed Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and Synchrotron Radiation-based Fourier Transformed Infrared (SR-FTIR) spectromicroscopy. The resulting data revealed high biological and chemical diversity among microbialites and specific microbe to chemical correlations. Regardless of the sampling site, Proteobacteria had the most significant correlations with biogeochemical parameters such as organic carbon (C org), nitrogen and C org:Ca ratio. Biogeochemically relevant bacterial groups (dominant phototrophs and heterotrophs) showed significant correlations with major ion composition, mineral type and transition element content, suchmore » as cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper and nickel. Microbial-chemical relationships were discussed in reference to microbialite formation, microbial metabolic capacities and the role of transition elements as enzyme cofactors. This paper provides an analytical baseline to drive our understanding of the links between microbial diversity with the chemistry of their lithified precipitations.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [4] ;  [6] ;  [3]
  1. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Division
  2. Univ. Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico City (Mexico)
  3. Univ. Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), Mexico City (Mexico). Lab. de Ecología Bacteriana, Inst. de Ecología
  4. Centro de Investigaciones de Ecosistemas Costeros, Cayo Coco (Cuba)
  5. Univ. Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico City, (Mexico). Lab. Nacional de Geoquimica y Mineralogia
  6. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Division; Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC02-05CH11231; KP1605010
Published Article
Journal Name:
Frontiers in Microbiology
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 9; Journal Issue: APR; Journal ID: ISSN 1664-302X
Frontiers Research Foundation
Research Org:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1460307