Microbial diversity of extant stromatolites in the hypersaline marine environment of Shark Bay, Australia
Article first published online: 15 JUN 2004
Volume 6, Issue 10, pages 1096–1101, October 2004
How to Cite
Burns, B. P., Goh, F., Allen, M. and Neilan, B. A. (2004), Microbial diversity of extant stromatolites in the hypersaline marine environment of Shark Bay, Australia. Environmental Microbiology, 6: 1096–1101. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2004.00651.x
- Issue published online: 15 JUN 2004
- Article first published online: 15 JUN 2004
- Received 20 November, 2003; revised 16 March, 2004; accepted 18 March, 2004.
Stromatolites have been present on Earth, at various levels of distribution and diversity, for more than 3 billion years. Today, the best examples of stromatolites forming in hypersaline marine environments are in Hamelin Pool at Shark Bay, Western Australia. Despite their evolutionary significance, little is known about their associated microbial communities. Using a polyphasic approach of culture-dependent and culture-independent methods, we report the discovery of a wide range of microorganisms associated with these biosedimentary structures. There are no comparable reports combining these methodologies in the survey of cyanobacteria, bacteria, and archaea in marine stromatolites. The community was characterized by organisms of the cyanobacterial genera Synechococcus, Xenococcus, Microcoleus, Leptolyngbya, Plectonema, Symploca, Cyanothece, Pleurocapsa and Nostoc. We also report the discovery of potentially free-living Prochloron. The other eubacterial isolates and clones clustered into seven phylogenetic groups: OP9, OP10, Marine A group, Proteobacteria, Low G+C Gram-positive, Planctomycetes and Acidobacteria. We also demonstrate the presence of sequences corresponding to members of halophilic archaea of the divisions Euryarchaeota and Crenarchaeota and methanogenic archaea of the order Methanosarcinales. This is the first report of such archaeal diversity from this environment. This study provides a better understanding of the microbial community associated with these living rocks.