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Abstract

Even though they are small-scale ecosystems, microbial mats have greatly influenced the development of life on Earth. In order to put together a clear image of how life was on this planet billions of years ago, one has to look to fossils. To see how certain conditions influenced the development of the fossils it is very important to look for modern analogues that may have the potential to create sedimentary structures. Such a possible analogue is the cyanobacterial mat associated with the geothermal spring from Beltiug, Western Plain of Romania. The cyanobacterial diversity was explored by light and electron microscopy, alongside the following culture-independent techniques automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis and amplified ribosomal DNA (rDNA) restriction analysis, based on 16S rDNA and 16S-23S internal transcribed spacer markers. Based on the partial 16S rDNA sequences obtained, four cyanobacterial taxons were identified, all belonging to the Oscillatoriales order. Even though the mat started to develop only a few decades ago, its spatial structure and taxon composition are similar to those of modern or fossil sedimentary structures. These observations, coupled with the chemical properties of the water, rich in Ca2+ and HCO2 make the Beltiug mat suitable for the appearance of sedimentary structures.

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