Seasonal Variability of Mineral Formation in Microbial Mats Subjected to Drying and Wetting Cycles in Alkaline and Hypersaline Sedimentary Environments



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Cabestrero, Óscar and Sanz Montero, M. Esther and Arregui García Roves, Lucía and Serrano Barrero, Susana (2018) Seasonal Variability of Mineral Formation in Microbial Mats Subjected to Drying and Wetting Cycles in Alkaline and Hypersaline Sedimentary Environments. Aquatic Geochemistry, 24 (1). pp. 79-105. ISSN 1380-6165, online ISSN: 1573-1421

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Interactions of the microbial mat community with the sedimentary environment were evaluated in two shallow, ephemeral lakes with markedly different hydrochemistry and mineralogy. The characterization of growing and decaying microbial mats by light microscopy observations and fluorescence in situ hybridization was complemented with biogeochemical and mineralogical measurements. The lakes studied were Eras and Altillo Chica, both located in Central Spain and representing poly-extreme environments. Lake Eras is a highly alkaline, brackish to saline lake containing a high concentration of chloride, and in which the carbonate concentration exceeds the sulfate concentration. The presence of magnesium is crucial for the precipitation of hydromagnesite in microbialites of this lake. Altillo Chica is a mesosaline to hypersaline playa lake with high concentrations of sulfate and chloride, favoring the formation of gypsum microbialites. Differences in the microbial community composition and mineralogy of the microbialites between the two lakes were primarily controlled by alkalinity and salinity. Lake Eras was dominated by the cyanobacterial genus Oscillatoria, as well as Alphaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria and Firmicutes. When the mat decayed, Alphaproteobacteria and Deltaproteobacteria increased and became the dominant heterotrophs, as opposed to Firmicutes. In contrast, Deltaproteobacteria was the most abundant group in Lake Altillo Chica, where desiccation led to mats decay during evaporite formation. In addition to Deltaproteobacteria, Cyanobacteria, Actinobacteria, Alphaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria were found in Altillo Chica, mostly during microbial mats growth. At both sites, microbial mats favored the precipitation of sulfate and carbonate minerals. The precipitation of carbonate is higher in the soda lake due to a stronger alkalinity engine and probably a higher degradation rate of exopolymeric substances. Our findings clarify the distribution patterns of microbial community composition in ephemeral lakes at the levels of whole communities, which were subjected to environmental conditions similar to those that may have existed during early Earth.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Playa lakes, Hypersaline, Alkaline, Desiccation, Microbial mats, Seasonality
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Geochemistry
Sciences > Geology > Mineralogy
Sciences > Geology > Petrology
ID Code:47578
Deposited On:16 May 2018 17:45
Last Modified:07 Jun 2019 08:47

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