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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-245
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-245
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  03 Aug 2020

03 Aug 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

The composition of endolithic communities in gypcrete is determined by the specific microhabitat architecture

María Cristina Casero1, Victoria Meslier2,a, Jocelyne DiRuggiero2, Antonio Quesada3, Carmen Ascaso1, Tomasz Kowaluk4, and Jacek Wierzchos1 María Cristina Casero et al.
  • 1Departamento Biogeoquímica y Ecología Microbiana, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, Madrid, 28006, Spain
  • 2Department of Biology, and Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, 21218, USA
  • 3Departamento de Biología, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, 28014, Spain
  • 4Institute of Metrology and Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Mechatronics, Warsaw University of Technology, 02-525 Warsaw, Poland
  • anow at: MetaGenoPolis, Jouy-en-Josas, France

Abstract. Endolithic microhabitats have been described as the last refuge for life in arid and hyper-arid deserts where life has to deal with harsh environmental conditions. A number of rock substrates from the hyper-arid Atacama Desert, colonized by endolithic microbial communities, such as halite, gypsum crusts, gypcrete, calcite, granite and ignimbrite, have been characterized and compared using different approaches. In this work, three different endolithic microhabitats are described, each one with a particular origin and architecture, found within a lithic substrate known as gypcrete. Gypcrete, an evaporitic rock mainly composed of gypsum (CaSO4 ⋅ 2H2O) and collected in the Cordón de Lila area of the desert (Preandean Atacama Desert), was found to harbour cryptoendolithic (within pore spaces in the rock), chasmoendolithic (within cracks and fissures) and hypoendolithic (within microcave-like pores in rock-bottom layer) microhabitats. A combination of microscopy investigations strategies and high-throughput sequencing approaches were used to characterize the endolithic communities at the microscale in these microhabitats within the same piece of lithic substrate. Microscopy techniques revealed differences in the architecture of the endolithic microhabitats and in the distribution of the microorganisms within those microhabitats. Cyanobacteria and Proteobacteria were dominant in the endolithic communities, of which the hypoendolithic community was the least diverse and hosted unique taxa. These results show, for the first time, that the differences in the architecture of a microhabitat, even within the same piece of lithic substrate, might be an essential factor in shaping the diversity and composition of endolithic microbial communities.

María Cristina Casero et al.

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María Cristina Casero et al.

María Cristina Casero et al.

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Short summary
Endolithic microhabitats have been described as the last refuge for life in arid and hyper-arid deserts where life has to deal with harsh environmental conditions, as those in the Atacama Desert. In this work, 3 different endolithic microhabitats occurring in gypcrete rocks of the Atacama Desert are characterized, using both microscopy and molecular techniques, to show if the architecture of each microhabitat has an influence in the microbial communities inhabiting each of them.
Endolithic microhabitats have been described as the last refuge for life in arid and hyper-arid...
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