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Open AccessArticle

Fossilized Endolithic Microorganisms in Pillow Lavas from the Troodos Ophiolite, Cyprus

1
Department of Paleobiology, Swedish Museum of Natural History, 114 18 Stockholm, Sweden
2
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Hamburg, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
3
Department of Biology, University of Southern Denmark, 5230 Odense, Denmark
4
Department of Earth Sciences, Palaeobiology, Uppsala University, 752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geosciences 2019, 9(11), 456; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9110456
Received: 23 August 2019 / Revised: 15 October 2019 / Accepted: 18 October 2019 / Published: 23 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tracking the Deep Biosphere through Time)
The last decade has revealed the igneous oceanic crust to host a more abundant and diverse biota than previously expected. These underexplored rock-hosted deep ecosystems dominated Earth’s biosphere prior to plants colonized land in the Ordovician, thus the fossil record of deep endoliths holds invaluable clues to early life and the work to decrypt them needs to be intensified. Here, we present fossilized microorganisms found in open and sealed pore spaces in pillow lavas from the Troodos Ophiolite (91 Ma) on Cyprus. A fungal interpretation is inferred upon the microorganisms based on characteristic morphological features. Geochemical conditions are reconstructed using data from mineralogy, fluid inclusions and the fossils themselves. Mineralogy indicates at least three hydrothermal events and a continuous increase of temperature and pH. Precipitation of 1) celadonite and saponite together with the microbial introduction was followed by 2) Na and Ca zeolites resulting in clay adherence on the microorganisms as protection, and finally 3) Ca carbonates resulted in final fossilization and preservation of the organisms in-situ. Deciphering the fossil record of the deep subseafloor biosphere is a challenging task, but when successful, can unlock doors to life’s cryptic past. View Full-Text
Keywords: deep biosphere; fossilized microorganisms; Ophiolite deep biosphere; fossilized microorganisms; Ophiolite
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Carlsson, D.-T.; Ivarsson, M.; Neubeck, A. Fossilized Endolithic Microorganisms in Pillow Lavas from the Troodos Ophiolite, Cyprus. Geosciences 2019, 9, 456.

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