Dawn Y Sumner, Participating Scientist. Several of Dawn Sumner's research projects relate to research at Pavilion Lake. Student Bekah Shepard and Dawn are studying how cyanobacteria organize into complex structures such as some of those found in Pavilion Lake. This research involves both experimental cyanobacterial biofilms (http://geology.ucdavis.edu/~sumner/modernmicrobes.html) and comparisons to natural mats, including those at Pavilion Lake. In addition, they are studying how microbial metabolic activity affects carbon isotopic signatures in carbonate, which can act as a geological record of microbial processes. Results from these modern studies provide a framework for interpreting ancient microbialites. Specifically, similarities between modern and 2.5 billion year old microbialites from South Africa suggest that the ancient structures record significant, but as yet unknown, microbial behaviors.
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