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Niche differentiation of bacterial communities at a millimeter scale in Shark Bay microbial mats
Wong, H.L.; Smith, D.-L.; Visscher, P.T.; Burns, B.P. (2015). Niche differentiation of bacterial communities at a millimeter scale in Shark Bay microbial mats. NPG Scientific Reports 5(15607): 17 pp.
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Wong, H.L.
  • Smith, D.-L.
  • Visscher, P.T.
  • Burns, B.P.

    Modern microbial mats can provide key insights into early Earth ecosystems, and Shark Bay, Australia, holds one of the best examples of these systems. Identifying the spatial distribution of microorganisms with mat depth facilitates a greater understanding of specific niches and potentially novel microbial interactions. High throughput sequencing coupled with elemental analyses and biogeochemical measurements of two distinct mat types (smooth and pustular) at a millimeter scale were undertaken in the present study. A total of 8,263,982 16S rRNA gene sequences were obtained, which were affiliated to 58 bacterial and candidate phyla. The surface of both mats were dominated by Cyanobacteria, accompanied with known or putative members of Alphaproteobacteria and Bacteroidetes. The deeper anoxic layers of smooth mats were dominated by Chloroflexi, while Alphaproteobacteria dominated the lower layers of pustular mats. In situ microelectrode measurements revealed smooth mats have a steeper profile of O2 and H2S concentrations, as well as higher oxygen production, consumption, and sulfate reduction rates. Specific elements (Mo, Mg, Mn, Fe, V, P) could be correlated with specific mat types and putative phylogenetic groups. Models are proposed for these systems suggesting putative surface anoxic niches, differential nitrogen fixing niches, and those coupled with methane metabolism.

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