Microbial Mats

A microbial mat is a multi-layered sheet of microorganisms, mainly bacteria and archaea. Microbial mats grow at interfaces between different types of material, mostly on submerged or moist surfaces, but a few survive in deserts. They colonize environments ranging in temperature from –40 °C to 120 °C. A few are found as endosymbionts of animals. Microbial mats are the earliest form of life on Earth for which there is good fossil evidence, from 3,500 million years ago, and have been the most important members and maintainers of the planet's ecosystems.

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