Microbial Communities of Stromatolites

Part of the Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology book series (COLE, volume 12)

One of the major challenges in science is to identify modern living systems that present unique opportunities to address fundamental questions in fields ranging from microbial ecology, evolution, chemical biology, functional genomics, and biotechnology. Stromatolites represent such a system. One of the earliest pieces of evidence of planetary life is in fact contained in the microfossils of stromatolites. These extant analogues provide an insight into the nature of ancient microbial systems that dominated early life on Earth (McNamara and Awramik, 1992), and may also provide clues as to their resilience over such immense periods of geological time. This review will focus on microfossil evidence from ancient stromatolites, the significant microbial diversity shown in these living systems, and recent results on lipid profiling that link stable chemical signatures with the biotic components in modern stromatolites. We will also discuss throughout how these early life analogues fit into the emerging and exciting field of astrobiology, a multi-disciplinary field of science that allows us to address fundamental questions on our own origins and existence.

Keywords

Ozone Hydrocarbon Calcite Shale Bacillus 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Centre for AstrobiologySchool of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences and the University of New South WalesAustralia

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