Origin and Phylogeny of Microbes Living in Permanent Antarctic Lake Ice
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The phylogenetic diversity of bacteria and cyanobacteria colonizing sediment particles in the permanent ice cover of an Antarctic lake was characterized by analyses of 16S rRNA genes amplified from environmental DNA. Samples of mineral particles were collected from a depth of 2.5 m in the 4-m-thick ice cover of Lake Bonney, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. A rRNA gene clone library of 198 clones was made and characterized by sequencing and oligonucleotide probe hybridization. The library was dominated by representatives of the cyanobacteria, proteobacteria, and Planctomycetales, but also contained diverse clones representing many other microbial groups, including the Acidobacterium/Holophaga division, the Green Non-Sulfur division, and the Actinobacteria. Six oligonucleotide probes were made for the most abundant clades recovered in the library. To determine whether the ice microbial community might originate from wind dispersal of the algal mats found elsewhere in Taylor Valley, the probes were hybridized to 16S rDNAs amplified from three samples of terrestrial cyanobacterial mats collected at nearby sites, as well as to bacterial 16S rDNAs from the lake ice community. The results demonstrate the presence of a diverse microbial community dominated by cyanobacteria in the lake ice, and also show that the dominant members of the lake ice microbial community are found in terrestrial mats elsewhere in the area. The lake ice microbial community appears to be dominated by organisms that are not uniquely adapted to the lake ice ecosystem, but instead are species that originate elsewhere in the surrounding region and opportunistically colonize the unusual habitat provided by the sediments suspended in lake ice.
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