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Fungal colonies in open fractures of subseafloor basalt.
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Geology.
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.
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2013 (English)In: Geo-Marine Letters, ISSN 0276-0460, E-ISSN 1432-1157, Vol. 33, no 4, 233-234 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The deep subseafloor crust is one of the few great frontiers of unknown biology on Earth and, still today, the notion of the deep biosphere is commonly based on the fossil record. Interpretation of palaeobiological information is thus central in the exploration of this hidden biosphere and, for each new discovery, criteria used to establish biogenicity are challenged and need careful consideration. In this paper networks of fossilized filamentous structures are for the first time described in open fractures of subseafloor basalts collected at the Emperor Seamounts, Pacific Ocean. These structures have been investigated with optical microscopy, environmental scanning electron microscope, energy dispersive spectrometer, X-ray powder diffraction as well as synchrotron-radiation X-ray tomographic microscopy, and interpreted as fossilized fungal mycelia.Morphological features such as hyphae, yeastlike growth and sclerotia were observed. The fossilized fungi are mineralized by montmorillonite, a process that probably began while the fungi were alive. It seems plausible that the fungi produced mucilaginous polysaccharides and/or extracellular polymeric substances that attracted minerals or clay particles, resulting in complete fossilization by montmorillonite. The findings are in agreement with previous observations of fossilized fungi in subseafloor basalts and establish fungi as regular inhabitants of such settings. They further show that fossilized microorganisms are not restricted to pore spaces filled by secondary mineralizations but can be found in open pore spaces as well. This challenges standard protocols for establishing biogenicity and calls for extra care in data interpretation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 33, no 4, 233-234 p.
Keyword [en]
Fungus, Eocene, fossil, Deep biosphere, basalt
National Category
Microbiology Geology
Research subject
The changing Earth
URN: urn:nbn:se:nrm:diva-591DOI: 10.1007/s00367-013-0321-7OAI: diva2:741566
Swedish Research Council, 2010-3929
Available from: 2014-08-28 Created: 2014-08-28

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Ivarsson, MagnusBengtson, StefanSkogby, HenrikBelivanova, Veneta
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Department of PaleobiologyDepartment of Geology
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