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  • 1. Drake, Henrik
    et al.
    Ivarsson, Magnus
    Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.
    Heim, Christine
    Snoeyenbos-West, Oona
    Bengtson, Stefan
    Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.
    Belivanova, Veneta
    Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.
    Whitehouse, Martin
    Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Geology.
    Fossilized anaerobic and possibly methanogenesis-fueling fungi identified deep within the Siljan impact structure, Sweden2021In: Communications Earth & Environment, E-ISSN 2662-4435, Vol. 2, no 1, p. 1-11Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Recent discoveries of extant and fossilized communities indicate that eukaryotes, including fungi, inhabit energy-poor and anoxic environments deep within the fractured igneous crust. This subterranean biosphere may constitute the largest fungal habitat on our planet, but knowledge of abyssal fungi and their syntrophic interactions with prokaryotes and their concomitant metabolisms is scarce. Here we report findings of fossilized, chitin-bearing fungal hyphae at ~540 m depth in fractured bedrock of the Siljan impact structure, the largest crater in Europe. Strong 13C-enrichment of calcite precipitated with and on the fungi suggests formation following methanogenesis, and that the anaerobic fungi decomposed dispersed organic matter producing for example H2 that may have fueled autotrophic methanogens. An Eocene age determined for the calcite infers the first timing constraint of fossilized fungi in the continental igneous crust. Fungi may be widespread decomposers of organic matter and overlooked providers of H2 to autotrophs in the vast rock-hosted deep biosphere.

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