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Molecular ecology of microbial mats
Bolhuis, H.; Cretoiu, M.S.; Stal, L.J. (2014). Molecular ecology of microbial mats. FEMS Microbiol. Ecol. 90(2): 335-350
In: FEMS Microbiology Ecology. Federation of European Microbiological Societies: Amsterdam. ISSN 0168-6496, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
Author keywords
    Cyanobacteria; microbial mat; metagenomics; hyperthermal; hypersaline; coastal.

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Abstract
    Phototrophic microbial mats are ideal model systems for ecological and evolutionary analysis of highly diverse microbial communities. Microbial mats are small-scale, nearly closed, and self-sustaining benthic ecosystems that comprise the major element cycles, trophic levels, and food webs. The steep and fluctuating physicochemical microgradients, that are the result of the ever changing environmental conditions and of the microorganisms' own activities, give rise to a plethora of potential niches resulting in the formation of one of the most diverse microbial ecosystems known to date. For several decades, microbial mats have been studied extensively and more recently molecular biological techniques have been introduced that allowed assessing and investigating the diversity and functioning of these systems. These investigations also involved metagenomics analyses using high-throughput DNA and RNA sequencing. Here, we summarize some of the latest developments in metagenomic analysis of three representative phototrophic microbial mat types (coastal, hot spring, and hypersaline). We also present a comparison of the available metagenomic data sets from mats emphasizing the major differences between them as well as elucidating the overlap in overall community composition.

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