, Volume 820, Issue 1, pp 23–48 | Cite as

Everything is not everywhere: a tale on the biogeography of cyanobacteria

  • Karine Felix RibeiroEmail author
  • Leandro Duarte
  • Luciane Oliveira Crossetti
Review Paper


Microrganisms such as cyanobacteria have been often considered as exhibiting wide distribution mainly driven by environmental heterogeneity. Recently, however, new findings have evoked the role of previously neglected processes, such as dispersal limitation, determining the distribution of a wide range of microorganisms, including cyanobacteria. Here, we reviewed the biogeographic patterns of cyanobacteria with focus on molecular data and the evidences from the published literature for the processes driving these patterns. Also, considerations are made about concept of species, discordances in the taxonomic concepts, and level of taxonomic resolution, and how these affect the biogeographic study of cyanobacteria. From a overview, it can be observed that both environmental and historical factors are important to structure cyanobacteria diversity across time and space. Moreover, different species may exhibit significant differences in their distribution patterns, from possibly cosmopolitan species to other endemic species. However, distribution patterns are closely dependent on the concept of species, besides the taxonomic resolution, spatial and environmental scales, and the biases of the molecular methodologies applied in the studies. Thus, efforts to broaden sampling and sequencing of unknown and less-known species, as well as geographic regions and habitats poorly exploited, are crucial for a better understanding of cyanobacteria biogeography.


Microbial cosmopolitanism Microbial diversity predictors Phylogeography Microbial ecology Cyanoprokaryota 



We thank the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), a foundation of the Ministério da Educação (MEC), for the scholarship granted to K.F.R. Research activities by L.D. has been supported by CNPq Productivity Fellowship (Grant 307886/2015-8). L.D.’s research project has been developed within the framework of the National Institutes for Science and Technology (INCT) in Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity Conservation, supported by MCTIC/CNPq (Proc. 465610/2014-5) and FAPEG. The authors declare no conflicts of interest concerning the studies summarized here.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em EcologiaUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de EcologiaUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil

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