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Unravelling Hidden Metabolic Capabilities in Microbial Mat Ecosystems by Combining In Situ Measurements and Omic Approaches

Mohammad AA Al-Najjar

Microbial mats are unique ecosystems that harbor diversified metabolic capabilities raging from photosynthesis in the upper layer to fermentation and organic material degradation accompanied with methane production in the deepest layer. Microorganisms in a microbial mat are successful to flourish in extreme environments because they can shift their metabolism in response to the changes in their environment. These metabolic flexibility and capabilities of the microorganisms are underestimated because most of the studies so far have focused on measuring changing in the behavior of the inhabiting microorganisms, or on certain biochemical indicators, or on the shift of microbial community structure. However, to be able to broaden our understanding of the metabolic capabilities, an intensive study of the underlying molecular mechanisms should be carried out. Therefore, the best approach to be adopted is by combining in situ measurements with omics analysis (i.e., matatranscriptomic and/or metaproteomic) in response to changes in the environmental conditions.