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Instant Attraction: Clay Authigenesis in Fossil Fungal Biofilms

1
Department of Paleobiology, Swedish Museum of Natural History, 11418 Stockholm, Sweden
2
Department of Biology, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, Odense M, 5230 Odense, Denmark
3
Department of Biology and Environmental Science, Linnaeus University, 39182 Kalmar, Sweden
4
Department of Geology, Swedish Museum of Natural History, 11418 Stockholm, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geosciences 2019, 9(9), 369; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9090369
Received: 25 June 2019 / Revised: 8 August 2019 / Accepted: 21 August 2019 / Published: 24 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tracking the Deep Biosphere through Time)
Clay authigenesis associated with the activity of microorganisms is an important process for biofilm preservation and may provide clues to the formation of biominerals on the ancient Earth. Fossilization of fungal biofilms attached to vesicles or cracks in igneous rock, is characterized by fungal-induced clay mineralization and can be tracked in deep rock and deep time, from late Paleoproterozoic (2.4 Ga), to the present. Here we briefly review the current data on clay mineralization by fossil fungal biofilms from oceanic and continental subsurface igneous rock. The aim of this study was to compare the nature of subsurface fungal clays from different igneous settings to evaluate the importance of host rock and ambient redox conditions for clay speciation related to fossil microorganisms. Our study suggests that the most common type of authigenic clay associated with pristine fossil fungal biofilms in both oxic (basaltic) and anoxic (granitic) settings are montmorillonite-like smectites and confirms a significant role of fungal biofilms in the cycling of elements between host rock, ocean and secondary precipitates. The presence of life in the deep subsurface may thus prove more significant than host rock geochemistry in directing the precipitation of authigenic clays in the igneous crust, the extent of which remains to be fully understood. View Full-Text
Keywords: clay authigenesis; fossil fungi; igneous crust; cryptoendoliths; subseafloor habitats clay authigenesis; fossil fungi; igneous crust; cryptoendoliths; subseafloor habitats
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Sallstedt, T.; Ivarsson, M.; Drake, H.; Skogby, H. Instant Attraction: Clay Authigenesis in Fossil Fungal Biofilms. Geosciences 2019, 9, 369.

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