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Microorganisms 2016, 4(1), 6; doi:10.3390/microorganisms4010006

Molecular Ecology of Hypersaline Microbial Mats: Current Insights and New Directions

1
School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia
2
Australian Centre for Astrobiology, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Ricardo Amils and Elena González Toril
Received: 7 August 2015 / Revised: 8 December 2015 / Accepted: 15 December 2015 / Published: 5 January 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extremophiles)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [830 KB, uploaded 5 January 2016]   |  

Abstract

Microbial mats are unique geobiological ecosystems that form as a result of complex communities of microorganisms interacting with each other and their physical environment. Both the microorganisms present and the network of metabolic interactions govern ecosystem function therein. These systems are often found in a range of extreme environments, and those found in elevated salinity have been particularly well studied. The purpose of this review is to briefly describe the molecular ecology of select model hypersaline mat systems (Guerrero Negro, Shark Bay, S’Avall, and Kiritimati Atoll), and any potentially modulating effects caused by salinity to community structure. In addition, we discuss several emerging issues in the field (linking function to newly discovered phyla and microbial dark matter), which illustrate the changing paradigm that is seen as technology has rapidly advanced in the study of these extreme and evolutionally significant ecosystems. View Full-Text
Keywords: hypersaline mats; microbial diversity; niche differentiation; microbial dark matter hypersaline mats; microbial diversity; niche differentiation; microbial dark matter
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Wong, H.L.; Ahmed-Cox, A.; Burns, B.P. Molecular Ecology of Hypersaline Microbial Mats: Current Insights and New Directions. Microorganisms 2016, 4, 6.

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