Biofilms are a ubiquitous form of life for microorganisms. Photosynthetic biofilms such as microphytobenthos (MPB) and biological soil crusts (BSC) play a relevant ecological role in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, respectively. On the other hand, photosynthetic epilithic biofilms (PEB) are major players in the microbial-induced decay of stone structures of cultural heritage. The use of fluorescence techniques, namely, pulse-amplitude-modulated fluorometry, was crucial to understanding the photophysiology of these microbial communities, since they made it possible to measure biofilms’ photosynthetic activity without disturbing their delicate spatial organization within sediments or soils. The use of laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) added further technical advantages, enabling measurements to be made at a considerable distance from the samples, and under daylight. In this Perspective
, we present state-of-the-art LIF techniques, show examples of the application of LIF to MPB and present exploratory results of LIF application to BSC, as well as to PEB colonizing stone structures of cultural heritage. Thereafter, we discuss the perspectives of LIF utilization in environmental research and monitoring, in cultural heritage conservation and assessment, and in biotechnological applications of photosynthetic biofilms.
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