Calcification in a Coccoid Cyanobacterium Associated with the Formation of Desert Stromatolites

  1. V. Paul Wright2 and
  2. Maurice E. Tucker3
  1. W. E. Krumbein and
  2. C. Giele

Published Online: 8 APR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304497.ch12



How to Cite

Krumbein, W. E. and Giele, C. (1991) Calcification in a Coccoid Cyanobacterium Associated with the Formation of Desert Stromatolites, in Calcretes (eds V. P. Wright and M. E. Tucker), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304497.ch12

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Postgraduate Research Institute of Sedimentology (PRIS), University of Reading, UK

  2. 3

    Department of Geological Sciences, University of Durham, UK

Author Information

  1. Environmental Laboratory, University of Oldenburg, P.O. Box 25 03, D-2900 Oldenburg, Oldb., Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 8 APR 2009
  2. Published Print: 13 JUN 1991

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632031870

Online ISBN: 9781444304497



  • calcification in a coccoid cyanobacterium - desert stromatolites;
  • ‘desert stromatolite’;
  • Pleurocapsa sp., exhibiting calcification;
  • stromatolites, organosedimentary structures;
  • weathering and ageing, producing smoother surface appearance


In the Borrego Desert (California) and in the Sinai Desert (Israel) laminated, microbially mediated carbonate crusts have been found and analysed biologically and mineralogically, and further studied with scanning electron microscope methods combined with energy dispersive X-ray analyses. All morphological and biological features of the extant crusts justify the term ‘desert stromatolite’, a term applied to stromatolites from desert regions which form under permanent exposure to the atmosphere. These stromatolites are never covered by standing water, and running water (heavy rainfall) covers them for only a few hours during the year. Carbonate deposition is achieved principally by the cyanobacterium Pleurocapsa sp. which exhibits characteristic yet different stages of calcification. Calcification occurs in the sheaths of single cells (including baeocytes) as well as in mature colonies. The specificity for calcification in Pleurocapsa sp. is discussed.