, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 411-423
Date: 22 Jan 2009

Bacterial diversity in the snow over Tibetan Plateau Glaciers

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Bacterial diversity and cell abundance in the snow of the four glaciers (Guoqu, Zadang, East Rongbuk and Palong No. 4) located in different climatic zones of the Tibetan Plateau were investigated through culture-independent molecular analysis of 16S rRNA gene clone library and flow cytometry approaches. Cell abundance ranged from 0.68 × 103 to 720 × 103 cells mL−1, with higher values in the northern glaciers than in the southern ones. Bacterial diversity was unexpectedly high in the snow habitats of the world’s highest plateau, with 15 common genera distributed widely among the glaciers. The bacterial diversity in the snow at different glaciers was related to the surrounding environments. The Guoqu Glacier, to the north near the desert zone and with the lowest temperature, preserved more bacteria closely related to a cold environment and soil than the other glaciers. However, in the Palong No. 4 Glacier located in the south warm region around vegetation, most bacteria were phylogenetically related to plant-associated bacteria.

Communicated by T. Matsunaga.