Microbiology & Virology

Exploring Microbial Mat Communities In Extreme Environments

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
Frontiers In Microbiology
June 26, 2024
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Exploring Microbial Mat Communities In Extreme Environments
Yellow microbial mat material in the vicinity of active venting. (Image credit: NOAA/OAR/OER, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas, Leg 3.) Credit NOAA/OAR/OER, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas, Leg 3. larger image

Microbial mats are biodiverse communities within which multiple functional groups of microbes combine to capture, sequester and recycle nutrients and energy. They are one of the earliest known and organized communities in the Earth’s fossil record when they were widespread and abundant for billions of years.

Today they are best developed in extreme environments that exclude larger metazoans which disturb mat development in more benign habitats.

Microbial mats and extreme environments are thus intimately linked, and provide great opportunities to study diversity, evolutionary processes and the capacity of life to adapt to environmental extremes. The aim of this Research Topic was to look across a range of environments, from very hot to very cold, hypersaline to hyper arid, tropical to polar, to contribute to our collective understanding of the diversity, complexity, and ecological significance of microbial mats.

Within this topic, eight articles have been published that extend our knowledge of the diversity and interactions of microbial mats in extreme environments and explore the limits of survival and the mechanisms that enable life to persist at the edge of the habitable envelope.

Editorial: Exploring microbial mat communities in extreme environments, Frontiers In Microbiology (open access)

Exploring Microbial Mat Communities in Extreme Environments (9 articles), Frontiers In Microbiology (open access)


Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻