Modern stromatolites represent ideal ecosystems to understand the biological processes required for the precipitation of carbonate due to their long evolutionary history and occurrence in a wide range of habitats. However, most of the prior molecular work on stromatolites has focused on understanding the taxonomic complexity and not fully elucidating the functional capabilities of these systems. Here, we begin to characterize the microbiome associated with stromatolites of Little Darby Island, The Bahamas using predictive metagenomics of the 16S rRNA gene coupled with direct whole shotgun sequencing. The metagenomic analysis of the Little Darby stromatolites revealed many shared taxa and core pathways associated with biologically induced carbonate precipitation, suggesting functional convergence within Bahamian stromatolites. A comparison of the Little Darby stromatolites with other lithifying microbial ecosystems also revealed that although factors, such as geographic location and salinity, do drive some differences within the population, there are extensive similarities within the microbial populations. These results suggest that for stromatolite formation, 'who' is in the community is not as critical as metabolic activities and environmental interactions. Together, these analyses help improve our understanding of the similarities among lithifying ecosystems and provide an important first step in characterizing the shared microbiome of modern stromatolites.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics