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Deep-biosphere consortium of fungi and prokaryotes in Eocene sub-seafloor basalts.
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.
Paul Scherrer Institute. (Swiss Light Source)
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.
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2014 (English)In: Geobiology, ISSN 1472-4677, E-ISSN 1472-4669, Vol. 12, no 6, 489-496 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The deep biosphere of the subseafloor crust is believed to contain a significant part of Earth’s biomass, but because of the difficulties of directly observing the living organisms, its composition and ecology are poorly known. We report here a consortium of fossilized prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms, occupying cavities in deep-drilled vesicular basalt from the Emperor Seamounts, Pacific Ocean, 67.5 meters below seafloor (mbsf). Fungal hyphae provide the framework on which prokaryote-like organisms are suspended like cobwebs and iron-oxidizing bacteria form microstromatolites (Frutexites). The spatial interrelationships show that the organisms were living at the same time in an integrated fashion, suggesting symbiotic interdependence. The community is contemporaneous with secondary mineralizations of calcite partly filling the cavities. The fungal hyphae frequently extend into the calcite, indicating that they were able to bore into the substrate through mineral dissolution. A symbiotic relationship with chemoautotrophs, as inferred for the observed consortium, may be a prerequisite for the eukaryotic colonization of crustal rocks. Fossils thus open a window to the extant as well as the ancient deep biosphere.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 12, no 6, 489-496 p.
Keyword [en]
Fungus, Moneran, Deep biosphere, Tertiary, Symbiosis
National Category
Geology Microbiology
Research subject
The changing Earth
URN: urn:nbn:se:nrm:diva-876DOI: 10.1111/gbi.12100OAI: diva2:765257
Swedish Research Council, 2010-3929Swedish Research Council, 2012-4364Danish National Research Foundation, DNRF53Paul Scherrer Institut, PSI, 20130185
Available from: 2014-11-21 Created: 2014-11-21 Last updated: 2015-02-03

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Bengtson, StefanIvarsson, MagnusBelivanova, Veneta
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