BIO Web of Conferences
Volume 2, 2014EPOV 2012: From Planets to Life – Colloquium of the CNRS Interdisciplinary Initiative “Planetary Environments and Origins of Life”
|Number of page(s)||10|
|Section||The Diversity of Early Life and Environments|
|Published online||18 February 2014|
Geomicrobiological study of modern microbialites from Mexico: towards a better understanding of the ancient fossil record
1 Institut de Minéralogie et de Physique de la Matière Condensée, CNRS UMR 7590, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 75005 Paris, France
2 Unité d’Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution, CNRS UMR 8079, Université Paris-Sud, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France
3 Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), CNRS UMR 7154, Université Paris Diderot, 75005 Paris, France
4 Departamento de Ecología y Recursos Naturales, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, DF Mexico, Mexico
5 Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Department of Ecology, 28049 Madrid, Spain
Microbialites are sedimentary formations that are found throughout the geological record and are usually considered as one of the oldest traces of life on Earth. Although they have been known for more than a century and hold as an emblematic object in Earth Sciences, we yet do not understand in details how they form and how microbial processes impact their chemistry, structure and macroscopic morphology. Here, we show recent advances achieved owing to funding provided by the EPOV program on the formation of modern microbialites in the crater Lake Alchichica (Mexico). We first show that very diverse microbial communities populate these microbialites, including diverse microbial groups able to induce carbonate precipitation. We demonstrate that this microbial diversity can be preserved for several years in laboratory aquaria offering a nice opportunity for future studies to assess the relationships between biodiversity and microbialite formation. We then detail the textural modifications affecting cyanobacterial cells during the first steps of fossilization as captured in Alchichica microbialites. Finally, we report the discovery of a new deepbranching cyanobacterium species, Candidatus Gloeomargarita lithophora, able to form intracellular Ca-, Mg-, Sr- and Ba-rich carbonates and discuss the implications for the interpretation of the fossil record.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2014
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