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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Core microbial communities of lacustrine microbialites sampled along an alkalinity gradient

Iniesto, Miguel; Moreira, David; Reboul, Guillaume; Deschamps, Philippe; Benzerara, Karim; Bertolino, Paola; Saghai, Aurelien; Tavera, Rosaluz; Lopez-Garcia, Purificacion


Microbialites are usually carbonate-rich sedimentary rocks formed by the interplay of phylogenetically and metabolically complex microbial communities with their physicochemical environment. Yet, the biotic and abiotic determinants of microbialite formation remain poorly constrained. Here, we analysed the structure of prokaryotic and eukaryotic communities associated with microbialites occurring in several crater lakes of the Trans-Mexican volcanic belt along an alkalinity gradient. Microbialite size and community structure correlated with lake physicochemical parameters, notably alkalinity. Although microbial community composition varied across lake microbialites, major taxa-associated functions appeared quite stable with both, oxygenic and anoxygenic photosynthesis and, to less extent, sulphate reduction, as major putative carbonatogenic processes. Despite interlake microbialite community differences, we identified a microbial core of 247 operational taxonomic units conserved across lake microbialites, suggesting a prominent ecological role in microbialite formation. This core mostly encompassed Cyanobacteria and their typical associated taxa (Bacteroidetes, Planctomycetes) and diverse anoxygenic photosynthetic bacteria, notably Chloroflexi, Alphaproteobacteria (Rhodobacteriales, Rhodospirilalles), Gammaproteobacteria (Chromatiaceae) and minor proportions of Chlorobi. The conserved core represented up to 40% (relative abundance) of the total community in lakes Alchichica and Atexcac, displaying the highest alkalinities and the most conspicuous microbialites. Core microbialite communities associated with carbonatogenesis might be relevant for inorganic carbon sequestration purposes.

Published in

Environmental Microbiology
2021, Volume: 23, number: 1, pages: 51-68
Publisher: WILEY