Why are some microorganisms boring?

Charles S. Cockell, Aude Herrera

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

Abstract

Microorganisms from diverse environments actively bore into rocks, contributing significantly to rock weathering. Carbonates are the most common substrate into which they bore, although there are also reports of microbial borings into volcanic glass. One of the most intriguing questions in microbial evolutionary biology is why some microorganisms bore. A variety of possible selection pressures, including nutrient acquisition, protection from UV radiation and predatory grazing could promote boring. None of these pressures is mutually exclusive and many of them could have acted in concert with varying strengths in different environments to favour the development of microorganisms that bore. We suggest that microbial boring might have begun in some environments as a mechanism against entombment by mineralization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-106
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Microbiology
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008

Keywords

  • MICROBIAL ENDOLITHS
  • FRENCH-POLYNESIA
  • NORTH GREENLAND
  • BASALTIC GLASS
  • EAST GREENLAND
  • PILLOW LAVAS
  • CYANOBACTERIA
  • ALGAE
  • LIFE
  • CARBONATES

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