Chapter

Microbial Mats

Volume 14 of the series Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology pp 131-148

Date:

Osmotrophic Biofilms: From Modern to Ancient

  • Martin D. BrasierAffiliated withDepartment of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford Email author 
  • , Richard H. T. CallowAffiliated withDepartment of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford
  • , Latha R. MenonAffiliated withDepartment of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford
  • , Alexander G. LiuAffiliated withDepartment of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford

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Abstract

We here explore the potential of nonphotosynthetic microbes as significant players in the formation and preservation of structures such as microbial mats and soil-like networks. In particular, we focus on organisms such as actinobacteria and fungi, known to feed by osmotic absorption of preformed organic compounds, which we collectively refer to as “osmotrophs” here. We show that they have a fossil record that may be traced far back into the Proterozoic in a range of sedimentary environments.