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Advances in Microbial Ecology

Volume 14 of the series Advances in Microbial Ecology pp 251-274

The Biogeochemistry of Hypersaline Microbial Mats

  • David J. Des MaraisAffiliated withAmes Research Center

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Abstract

Microbial mats are structurally coherent macroscopic accumulations of microorganisms. Photosynthetic mats offer an opportunity to examine the dynamics of a complete microbial ecosystem. Microbial mats construct laminated “miniature reefs” called stromatolites, which occur typically as carbonate rocks and are among the oldest, most abundant fossil evidence of ancient life on Earth (Walter, 1976). Mats built by cyanobacteria created the most obvious and best-studied stromatolites in the fossil record (Walter, 1976; Walter et al., 1992).