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Open AccessArticle

Effects of Elevated Carbon Dioxide and Salinity on the Microbial Diversity in Lithifying Microbial Mats

Space Life Science Lab, University of Florida, Merritt Island, FL 32953, USA
Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521, USA
Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut, Groton, CT 06340, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Minerals 2014, 4(1), 145-169;
Received: 9 January 2014 / Revised: 7 March 2014 / Accepted: 10 March 2014 / Published: 14 March 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue CO2 Sequestration by Mineral Carbonation: Challenges and Advances)
Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) are rising at an accelerated rate resulting in changes in the pH and carbonate chemistry of the world’s oceans. However, there is uncertainty regarding the impact these changing environmental conditions have on carbonate-depositing microbial communities. Here, we examine the effects of elevated CO2, three times that of current atmospheric levels, on the microbial diversity associated with lithifying microbial mats. Lithifying microbial mats are complex ecosystems that facilitate the trapping and binding of sediments, and/or the precipitation of calcium carbonate into organosedimentary structures known as microbialites. To examine the impact of rising CO2 and resulting shifts in pH on lithifying microbial mats, we constructed growth chambers that could continually manipulate and monitor the mat environment. The microbial diversity of the various treatments was compared using 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing. The results indicated that elevated CO2 levels during the six month exposure did not profoundly alter the microbial diversity, community structure, or carbonate precipitation in the microbial mats; however some key taxa, such as the sulfate-reducing bacteria Deltasulfobacterales, were enriched. These results suggest that some carbonate depositing ecosystems, such as the microbialites, may be more resilient to anthropogenic-induced environmental change than previously thought. View Full-Text
Keywords: carbon sequestration; biological-induced mineralization; microbialites; microbial diversity carbon sequestration; biological-induced mineralization; microbialites; microbial diversity
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Ahrendt, S.R.; Mobberley, J.M.; Visscher, P.T.; Koss, L.L.; Foster, J.S. Effects of Elevated Carbon Dioxide and Salinity on the Microbial Diversity in Lithifying Microbial Mats. Minerals 2014, 4, 145-169.

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