Stromatolites

The earliest microfossils and living 'fossils'.

Composition and structure of microbial communities from stromatolites of Hamelin Pool in Shark Bay, Western Australia.

Entrez PubMed: "Stromatolites, organosedimentary structures formed by microbial activity, are found throughout the geological record and are important markers of biological history. More conspicuous in the past, stromatolites occur today in a few shallow marine environments, including Hamelin Pool in Shark Bay, Western Australia. Hamelin Pool stromatolites often have been considered contemporary analogs to ancient stromatolites, yet little is known about the microbial communities that build them. We used DNA-based molecular phylogenetic methods that do not require cultivation to study the microbial diversity of an irregular stromatolite and of the surface and interior of a domal stromatolite. To identify the constituents of the stromatolite communities, small subunit rRNA genes were amplified by PCR from community genomic DNA with universal primers, cloned, sequenced, and compared to known rRNA genes. The communities were highly diverse and novel. The average sequence identity of Hamelin Pool sequences compared to the >200,000 known rRNA sequences was only approximately 92%. Clone libraries were approximately 90% bacterial and approximately 10% archaeal, and eucaryotic rRNA genes were not detected in the libraries. The most abundant sequences were representative of novel proteobacteria (approximately 28%), planctomycetes ( approximately 17%), and actinobacteria (approximately 14%). Sequences representative of cyanobacteria, long considered to dominate these communities, comprised <5% title="Click to search for citations by this author." Papineau D, Walker JJ, Mojzsis SJ, Pace NR. Composition and structure of microbial communities from stromatolites of Hamelin Pool in Shark Bay, Western Australia. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Aug;71(8):4822-32. Free Full Text Article

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