Stromatolites on the rise in peat-bound karstic wetlands
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-19, 13:30 authored by Bernadette ProemseBernadette Proemse, Eberhard, RS, Christopher SharplesChristopher Sharples, John BowmanJohn Bowman, Richards, K, Comfort, M, Leon BarmutaLeon Barmuta
Stromatolites are the oldest evidence for life on Earth, but modern living examples are rare and predominantly occur in shallow marine or (hyper-) saline lacustrine environments, subject to exotic physico-chemical conditions. Here we report the discovery of living freshwater stromatolites in cool temperate karstic wetlands in the Giblin River catchment of the UNESCO-listed Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Australia. These stromatolites colonize the slopes of karstic spring mounds which create mildly alkaline (pH of 7.0-7.9) enclaves within an otherwise uniformly acidic organosol terrain. The freshwater emerging from the springs is Ca-HCO3 dominated and water temperatures show no evidence of geothermal heating. Using 16S rRNA gene clone library analysis we revealed that the bacterial community is dominated by Cyanobacteria, Alphaproteobacteria and an unusually high proportion of Chloroflexi, followed by Armatimonadetes and Planctomycetes, and is therefore unique compared to other living examples. Macroinvertebrates are sparse and snails in particular are disadvantaged by the development of debilitating accumulations of carbonate on their shells, corroborating evidence that stromatolites flourish under conditions where predation by metazoans is suppressed. Our findings constitute a novel habitat for stromatolites because cool-temperate freshwater wetlands are not a conventional stromatolite niche, suggesting that stromatolites may be more common than previously thought.
Publication titleScientific Reports
Department/SchoolSchool of Natural Sciences
PublisherNature Publishing Group
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
Rights statementCopyright 2017 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/