, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 363-373
Date: 21 Apr 2007

Nitrogen Fixation in Microbial Mat and Stromatolite Communities from Cuatro Cienegas, Mexico

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Nitrogen fixation (nitrogenase activity, NA) of a microbial mat and a living stromatolite from Cuatro Cienegas, Mexico, was examined over spring, summer, and winter of 2004. The goal of the study was to characterize the diazotrophic community through molecular analysis of the nifH gene and using inhibitors of sulfate reduction and oxygenic and anoxygenic photosynthesis. We also evaluated the role of ultraviolet radiation on the diazotrophic activity of the microbial communities. Both microbial communities showed patterns of NA with maximum rates during the day that decreased significantly with 3-3,4-dichlorophenyl-1′,1′-dimethylurea, suggesting the potential importance of heterocystous cyanobacteria. There is also evidence of NA by sulfur-reducing bacteria in both microbial communities suggested by the negative effect exerted by the addition of sodium molybdate. Elimination of infrared and ultraviolet radiation had no effect on NA. Both microbial communities had nifH sequences that related to group I, including cyanobacteria and purple sulfur and nonsulfur bacteria, as well as group II nitrogenases, including sulfur reducing and green sulfur bacteria.