Stromatolites are geobiological ecosystems produced by the metabolic activity of complex microbial communities. Biomarkers in ancient stromatolites are a proof of life, and recent work has demonstrated that stromatolites emerged as far back as 3.7 billion years. Understanding modern stromatolite systems is of fundamental significance to shed light on the evolution of early microbial life and the impacts of these ecosystems on both past and present global nutrient cycling. The purpose of this short communication is to briefly describe the emerging tools and technological advances that have significantly advanced our understanding of these ecosystems. The field is developing rapidly, and has progressed from traditional microbiological and microscopic techniques, to advanced ‘bleeding-edge’ multi-omic platforms that have revolutionised the way we view and interpret modern stromatolites. Many improvements have been made and have facilitated an enhanced analysis of microbial communities, with advancements in technology resulting in more selective and sensitive methods enabling an accurate measure and detection of relevant genes and proteins. Recent advances in next-generation technologies have enabled unprecedented access to these complex ecosystems, and this facilitates rational predictions on past environments as well as a greater understanding of how stromatolite microorganisms help drive major global nutrient cycles.
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