Community structure and composition are dictated by evolutionary and ecological assembly processes which are manifested in signals of, species diversity, species abundance and species relatedness. Analysis of species coexisting relatedness, has received attention as a tool to identify the processes that influence the composition of a community within a particular habitat. In this study, we tested if microbialite genetic composition is dependent on random events versus biological/abiotical factors. This study was based on a large genetic data set of two hypervariable regions (V5 and V6) from previously generated barcoded 16S rRNA amplicons from nine microbialite communities distributed in Northeastern, Central and Southeastern Mexico collected in May and June of 2009. Genetic data of the most abundant phyla (Proteobacteria, Planctomycetes, Verrucomicrobia, Bacteroidetes, and Cyanobacteria) were investigated in order to state the phylogenetic structure of the complete communities as well as each phylum. For the complete dataset, Webb NTI index showed positive and significant values in the nine communities analysed, where values ranged from 31.5 in Pozas Azules I to 57.2 in Bacalar Pirate Channel; meanwhile, NRI index were positive and significant in six of the nine communities analysed with values ranging from 18.1 in Pozas Azules I to 45.1 in Río Mesquites. On the other hand, when comparing each individual phylum, NTI index were positive and significant in all groups, except in Cyanobacteria for which positive and significant values were only found in three localities; finally, NRI index was significant in only a few of the comparisons performed. The results suggest that habitat filtering is the main process that drives phylogenetic structure in bacterial communities associated to microbialites with the exception of Cyanobacteria where different lineages can contribute to microbialite formation and growth.

Keywords: Community assembly, community composition, Cyanobacteria, heterotrophic bacteria, microbialites, NRI, NTI.