|Phototrophic marine benthic microbiomes: the ecophysiology of these biological entities|Stal, L.J.; Bolhuis, H.; Cretoiu, M.S. (2019). Phototrophic marine benthic microbiomes: the ecophysiology of these biological entities. Environ. Microbiol. 21(5): 1529-1551. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.14494
In: Environmental Microbiology. Blackwell Scientific Publishers: Oxford. ISSN 1462-2912, meer
Phototrophic biofilms are multispecies, self‐sustaining and largely closed microbial ecosystems. They form macroscopic structures such as microbial mats and stromatolites. These sunlight‐driven consortia consist of a number of functional groups of microorganisms that recycle the elements internally. Particularly, the sulfur cycle is discussed in more detail as this is fundamental to marine benthic microbial communities and because recently exciting new insights have been obtained. The cycling of elements demands a tight tuning of the various metabolic processes and require cooperation between the different groups of microorganisms. This is likely achieved through cell‐to‐cell communication and a biological clock. Biofilms may be considered as a macroscopic biological entity with its own physiology. We review the various components of some marine phototrophic biofilms and discuss their roles in the system. The importance of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) as the matrix for biofilm metabolism and as substrate for biofilm microorganisms is discussed. We particularly assess the importance of extracellular DNA, horizontal gene transfer and viruses for the generation of genetic diversity and innovation, and for rendering resilience to external forcing to these biological entities.