Elucidating the ecological networks in stone-dwelling microbiomes.

Academic Article


  • Stone surfaces are extreme environments that support microbial life. This microbial growth occurs despite unfavourable conditions associated with stone including limited sources of nutrients and water, high pH and exposure to extreme variations in temperature, humidity and irradiation. These stone-dwelling microbes are often resistant to extreme environments including exposure to desiccation, heavy metals, UV and Gamma irradiation. Here, we report on the effects of climate and stone geochemistry on microbiomes of Roman stone ruins in North Africa. Stone microbiomes were dominated by Actinobacteria, Cyanobacteria and Proteobacteria but were heavily impacted by climate variables that influenced water availability. Stone geochemistry also influenced community diversity, particularly through biologically available P, Mn and Zn. Functions associated with photosynthesis and UV protection were enriched in the metagenomes, indicating the significance of these functions for community survival on stones. Core members of the stone microbial communities were also identified and included Geodermatophilaceae, Rubrobacter, Sphingomonas and others. Our research has helped to expand the understanding of stone microbial community structure and functional capacity within the context of varying climates, geochemical properties and stone conditions.
  • Authors

  • Louati, Moussa
  • Ennis, Nathaniel J
  • Ghodhbane-Gtari, Faten
  • Hezbri, Karima
  • Sevigny, Joseph L
  • Fahnestock, Maria Florencia
  • Cherif-Silini, Hafsa
  • Bryce, Julie
  • Tisa, Louis
  • Gtari, Maher
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • April 2020
  • Published In


  • Africa, Northern
  • Bacteria
  • Extreme Environments
  • Metagenome
  • Microbiota
  • Photosynthesis
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 31158316
  • Start Page

  • 1467
  • End Page

  • 1480
  • Volume

  • 22
  • Issue

  • 4