A year in the life of a thrombolite: comparative metatranscriptomics reveals dynamic metabolic changes over diel and seasonal cycles

Artemis S Louyakis, Hadrien Gourlé, Giorgio Casaburi, Rachelle ME Bonjawo, Alexandrea A Duscher, Jamie S Foster

Abstract

Microbialites are one of the oldest known ecosystems on Earth and the coordinated metabolisms and activities of these mineral‐depositing communities have had a profound impact on the habitability of the planet. Despite efforts to understand the diversity and metabolic potential of these systems, there has not been a systematic molecular analysis of the transcriptional changes that occur within a living microbialite over time. In this study, we generated metatranscriptomic libraries from actively growing thrombolites, a type of microbialite, throughout diel and seasonal cycles and observed dynamic shifts in the population and metabolic transcriptional activity. The most transcribed genes in all seasons were associated with photosynthesis, but only transcripts associated with photosystem II exhibited diel cycling. Photosystem I transcripts were constitutively expressed at all time points including midnight and sunrise. Transcripts associated with nitrogen fixation …

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