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Microbiology Open




Cryptoendolithic bacterial communities in the Jurassic Navajo Sandstones play an important ecological role in this ecosystem. Developing a better understanding of the role of these cryptoendolithic communities required a deeper knowledge of the microbial diversity present. We analyzed the bacterial diversity in eight sandstones samples from several microgeological features associated with a large sandstone dome. Cryptoendolithic bacterial diversity is clustered into three distinct groups which correlated with topography, suggesting the duration of water retention might be a factor. Comparisons of diversity between each cluster showed that a core bacterial community exists in this habitat. The overall bacterial community structure was dominated by Cyanobacteria, Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Actinobacteria. The most prevalent genera in cyanobacteria were Leptolyngbya, Chroococcidiopsis, and unclassified cyanobacteria accounting for the bulk of cyanobacterial sequences. Within the Proteobacteria, Alphaproteobacteria were the largest class detected, with members of the Acetobacteraceae, particularly the genus Acidiphilium, being the most abundant. Acidiphilium spp. are capable of aerobic ferric iron reduction under moderately acidic conditions, explaining the high levels of iron (II) in this system. This study highlights the extent of unexplored bacterial diversity in this habitat system and sets the premise for elaborating on the ecological function of cryptoendolithic communities.


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