Evolutionary history of conical stromatolites

Nicole Wagner

Nicole Wagner, Georgetown University, USA


The focus of this project are the benthic conical stromatolites collected from the perennially frozen Antarctic Lake Untersee. These conical mats consist of layers of microbial biofilms and are, to our knowledge, one of the only known living models of ancient conical stromatolite fossils. After optimizing the extraction protocols for yield and length, we use DNA sequences obtained using a MinION to study these samples, shedding light on the community structure and metabolic activity of these microbial communities. By studying these modern samples of ancient stromatolites, we gain insight into the life and survival of ancient microbial communities.


Nicole Wagner is a Ph.D. candidate at Georgetown University. Her research is focused on studying extreme environments using metagenomics. Previously, she worked on microbial communities near hydrothermal vents. Currently, she studies the microbiome within the perennially frozen Antarctic Lake Untersee. Nicole uses MinION sequencing for both field and lab analysis of Antarctic samples. She is currently using these sequences to study the properties of benthic biomats in Lake Untersee, as well as the process of DNA taphonomy in Antarctica.