Protocols for the Study of Microbe–Mineral Interactions in Modern Microbialites

  • Estelle CouradeauEmail author
  • Karim Benzerara
  • David Moreira
  • Purificación López-GarcíaEmail author
Part of the Springer Protocols Handbooks book series (SPH)


Microbialites are organo-sedimentary structures formed by the direct or indirect action of microorganisms. Fossil stromatolites (laminated microbialites) constitute the oldest reliable traces of life, a fact that generates considerable interest in how these structures are formed and what biogenic traces can be preserved. Although found extensively in the fossil record, these structures are restricted today to a few marine and freshwater settings. Microbialites have a dual nature, where mineral and microbial roles are highly imbricated. This attribute poses a serious challenge for study from both a biological and mineralogical point of view. Here we detail protocols for sampling design, collection, fixation, and storage, propose a flowchart to carry out molecular surveys of microbialite microbial communities, and review a variety of correlative microscopies (light, confocal laser scanning, and electron and X-ray microscopies) to analyze the mineralogy and spatial distribution of microbialite components. These protocols are accompanied by potential solutions to problems related to the complexity of these systems.


Biomineralization Confocal laser scanning microscopy Electron microscopy Microbial diversity Microbialite X-ray microscopy 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ecologie Systématique Evolution, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique – CNRS Université Paris-Sud, AgroParisTech, UniversitÕ Paris-SaclayOrsayFrance
  2. 2.Institut de Minéralogie, de Physique des Matériaux, et de Cosmochimie, Sorbonne Universités, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, UMR 7590, Université Pierre et Marie Curie Paris 06, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement UMR 206ParisFrance
  3. 3.Life Sciences E Wing, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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