• endolithic;
  • photo-microbial community;
  • cyanobacteria;
  • travertine;
  • Yellowstone National Park


Molecular and culture based methods were used to survey endolithic, photosynthetic communities from hot spring-formed travertine rocks of various ages, ranging from<10 to greater than 300 000 years. Much of this travertine contained a 1–3-mm-thick greenish band composed mainly of cyanobacteria 1–5 mm below the rock surface. The travertine rocks experienced desiccation in summer and freezing in winter. A total of 83 environmental 16S rRNA gene sequences were obtained from clone libraries and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. Small subunit rRNA gene sequences and cell morphology were determined for 36 cyanobacterial culture isolates from these samples. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the 16S rRNA gene sequences fell into 15 distinct clusters, including several novel lineages of cyanobacteria.