, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 327–336 | Cite as

The diversity, distribution, and pathogenic potential of cultivable fungi present in rocks from the South Shetlands archipelago, Maritime Antarctica

  • Isabel M. S. Alves
  • Vívian N. Gonçalves
  • Fabio S. Oliveira
  • Carlos E. G. R. Schaefer
  • Carlos A. Rosa
  • Luiz H. RosaEmail author
Original Paper


We studied the molecular taxonomy and diversity of cultivable rock fungi from Antarctic islands. From 50 rock samples, 386 fungal isolates were obtained and identified as 33 taxa of 20 genera. The genera Cladophialophora, Cladosporium, Cyphellophora, Eichleriella, Paracladophialophora, and Penicillium displayed the highest densities. Ecological diversity indices showed that the fungal assemblages are diverse and rich with low dominance. The genera Cladophialophora, Cladosporium, and Penicillium showed a broad distribution from rocks of the various islands. One hundred and fifty-nine fungi, grown at 37 °C, were identified as Penicillium chrysogenum, Fusarium sp., and Rhodotorula mucilaginosa. One hundred and three fungi displayed haemolytic activity, 81 produced proteinase, 9 produced phospholipase, and 25 presented dimorphism and a spore diameter ≤ 4 µm. The Antarctic Peninsula region appears to be under the effects of global climate changes, which may expose and accelerate the rock’s weathering processes, and expose and release cryptic fungi and other microbes, especially those with innate pathogenic potential, previously arrested in rocks. Consequently, these rocks and their particles may represent a vehicle for the dispersal of microbial propagules, including those able to spread pathogens, along, across, and out of Antarctica.


Antarctica Extremophile Taxonomy Rocks 



We acknowledge the financial support from CNPq, CNPq/ PROANTAR 442258-2018-6, INCT Criosfera 2, FAPEMIG (0050-13), CAPES, and PRPq-UFMG.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 222 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 16 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 13 kb)
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Supplementary material 4 (DOCX 27 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabel M. S. Alves
    • 1
  • Vívian N. Gonçalves
    • 1
  • Fabio S. Oliveira
    • 2
  • Carlos E. G. R. Schaefer
    • 3
  • Carlos A. Rosa
    • 1
  • Luiz H. Rosa
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Departmento de MicrobiologiaUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrasil
  2. 2.Departmento de GeofrafiaUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrasil
  3. 3.Departmento de SolosUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisViçosaBrasil

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