Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2023-32
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2023-32
27 Feb 2023
 | 27 Feb 2023
Status: this discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG). The manuscript was not accepted for further review after discussion.

What is eating my rocks? A possible novel biological niche in limestone

Trudy M. Wassenaar, Cees W. Passchier, Nora Groschopf, Anna Jantschke, Regina Mertz-Kraus, and Janos L. Urai

Abstract. Metamorphic limestones in Namibia and Oman were found to be consumed inside the rock mass by microbiological activity of a thus far unknown nature that created bands of parallel tubules. Tubule of up to 0.5 mm wide and 30 mm long collectively form bands of tens of meters long. These bands formed along fractures in the rock and only surfaced after erosion. In fresh outcrops the tubules are filled with white calcium carbonate with internal structures. This filling is depleted for several metal elements that can be incorporated into biomatter and was deposited by the microorganisms as they grew inside the rock. The rim of the tubules contain1 µm wide growth rings enriched for P and S. Fluorescence microscopy confirmed presence of biological material. The rocks are too old to conserve DNA or protein. We consider this a new niche for life that has so far not been described.

Trudy M. Wassenaar, Cees W. Passchier, Nora Groschopf, Anna Jantschke, Regina Mertz-Kraus, and Janos L. Urai

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2023-32', Anonymous Referee #1, 29 Mar 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Cees Passchier, 15 May 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2023-32', Anonymous Referee #2, 01 May 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Cees Passchier, 15 May 2023

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2023-32', Anonymous Referee #1, 29 Mar 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Cees Passchier, 15 May 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2023-32', Anonymous Referee #2, 01 May 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Cees Passchier, 15 May 2023
Trudy M. Wassenaar, Cees W. Passchier, Nora Groschopf, Anna Jantschke, Regina Mertz-Kraus, and Janos L. Urai
Trudy M. Wassenaar, Cees W. Passchier, Nora Groschopf, Anna Jantschke, Regina Mertz-Kraus, and Janos L. Urai

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Short summary
Marbles in the desert areas of Namibia and Oman were found to be consumed from inside the rock mass by microbiological activity of a thus far unknown nature that created bands of parallel tubules. These bands formed along fractures in the rock and only surfaced after erosion made them visible. We consider this a new niche for life that has so far not been described. These life forms may have an unknown impact on the global carbon cycle.
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