In recent years, endostromatolites, which consist of finely laminated calcite columns that grow orthogonally within millimeter- to centimeter-thick fissures in limestone bedrock outcrops, have been discovered in dolomitic outcrops in the Haughton impact structure region, Devon Island, Canada. The growth mechanism of the endostromatolites is believed to be very slow and possibly intertwined with biotic and abiotic processes. Therefore, to discern how endostromatolites form in this polar desert environment, the composition of the microbial community of endostromatolites was determined by means of molecular phylogenetic analysis and compared to the microbial communities found in the surrounding soils. The microbial community present within endostromatolites can be inferred to be (given the predominant metabolic traits of related organisms) mostly aerobic and chemoheterotrophic, and belongs in large part to the phylum Actinobacteria and the subphylum Alphaproteobacteria. The identification of these bacteria suggests that the conditions within the fissure were mostly oxidizing during the growth of endostromatolite. The DNA sequences also indicate that a number of bacteria that closely resemble Rubrobacter radiotolerans are abundant in the endostromatolites as well as other Actinobacteria and Alphaproteobacteria. Some of these taxa have been associated with calcite precipitation, which suggests that the endostromatolites might in fact be microbially mediated. Bacterial communities from nearby permanently frozen soils were more diverse and harbored all the phyla found in the endostromatolites with additional taxa. This study on the microbial communities preserved in potentially microbially mediated secondary minerals in the Arctic could help in the search for evidence of life-forms near the edge of habitability on other planetary bodies. Key Words: Biomineralization- Biosignatures-Carbonates-Haughton Crater-Microbial ecology.
|Number of pages||16|
|State||Published - 1 Nov 2009|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science