Polar Biology

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 387–399 | Cite as

Assessment of soil bacterial communities on Alexander Island (in the maritime and continental Antarctic transitional zone)

  • C. W. Chong
  • P. Convey
  • D. A. Pearce
  • I. K. P. Tan
Original Paper


Despite an increasing number of Antarctic soil diversity assessments, understanding of the bacterial community composition in the arid soil environments of the maritime/continental Antarctic transitional zone remains lacking. Most documented microbiological studies had focused on either the wetter environments of the Antarctic Peninsula/Scotia arc or the exceptionally arid deserts of the Dry Valleys of continental Antarctica. In this study, soil bacterial diversity from three relatively arid sites on Alexander Island and the physicochemical parameters that might influence it were assessed. In general, the study sites exhibited levels of pH, hydration and metal content different from previous reports of maritime or continental Antarctic soil habitats. Although the soil from Alexander Island exhibited similar phylum-level bacterial taxonomic composition to those of other cold and arid environments, each study site was found to harbour significantly different bacterial assemblages. The latter finding was supported by three complementary molecular methods selected to address different elements of diversity. Our analyses of the measured parameters suggest that the differences in bacterial communities were best explained by soil pH and copper content. Using these data, we suggest that soil pH might play an important role in structuring bacterial assemblage patterns across polar soils.


DGGE T-RFLP Cloning Bacterial diversity pH 



This project was funded by the Malaysian Antarctic Research Programme (MARP), and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) provided logistic support and field training. We thank Roger Worland and Paul Dennis for assistance in sample collection. The paper also contributes to the BAS ‘Polar Science for Planet Earth’ and SCAR ‘Evolution and Biodiversity in Antarctica’ programmes.

Supplementary material

300_2011_1084_MOESM1_ESM.doc (275 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 275 kb)
300_2011_1084_MOESM2_ESM.doc (929 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 929 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. W. Chong
    • 1
  • P. Convey
    • 2
  • D. A. Pearce
    • 2
  • I. K. P. Tan
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  2. 2.British Antarctic SurveyNERCCambridgeUK

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