Abstract

Transmission electron microscopy and energy-dispersive x-ray analysis revealed that filamentous phototrophic bacteria resembling Chloroflexus aurantiacus underwent rapid silicification in an Icelandic hot spring microbial mat. The mineralization associated with the cells occurred both extracellularly, within and on the external sheaths of the bacteria, and intracellularly, within the cytoplasm. The exceptional preservation of the bacterial sheaths is due to the presence of distinct mineral nucleation sites. This results in the production of silica casts of the bacteria, which bear a striking resemblance to microbial remains in ancient microfossil assemblages.

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