Fungal Diversity

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 13–22 | Cite as

Fungal colonization of exotic substrates in Antarctica

  • Brett E. Arenz
  • Benjamin W. Held
  • Joel A. Jurgens
  • Robert A. Blanchette


Throughout the history of polar exploration and up to recent times, wood and other exotic materials have been brought to the Antarctic continent and left there. While the possible transportation of exotic fungal species on these materials is sometimes considered, the effects of these exotic substrates on indigenous fungal communities have not been previously evaluated. This study reports results from seven plots where organic materials were used in baiting studies to determine the fungal diversity present in soils. Four plots were on islands in the Palmer Archipelago on the Antarctic Peninsula and three at Ross Island, Antarctica. Samples of sterile wood and cellulose with and without nutrients added were buried in soil and left for either two or four years before being removed and evaluated for fungal colonization. There was a significant increase in fungal colony-forming units (CFU) from soil in direct contact with introduced, sterile wood and cellulose substrates compared to background soil levels. The type of substrate, 2 or 4 year incubation period in the field, or nutrient addition did not have a significant effect on culturable densities in soil. Fungal abundance on soil adhering to substrates was found to be similar to that found in non-polar soils indicating that lack of organic material may be the most significant limiting factor affecting densities of Antarctic fungal populations. Based on a high degree of colonization, these exotic substrates appear to have a significant effect on indigenous soil fungal abundance.


Antarctica Fungi Wood Exotic Human-influence Substrates Soil 



We thank Roberta Farrell and Shona Duncan of the University of Waikato and Stephen Pointing and Maggie Lau of the University of Hong Kong and Andrew Graves of the University of Minnesota for assistance with plot setup and sample retrieval. We also thank Melissa Rider and the crew of the R/V Lawrence M. Gould for facilitating travel to sites on the Antarctic Peninsula. We thank the support personnel of Scott Base and McMurdo Station for their assistance. Thanks also to Mark Holland of the University of Minnesota for assistance with statistical analysis. This research is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Grant No. 0537143.


  1. Alias SA, Jones EBG (2000) Colonization of mangrove wood by marine fungi at Kuala Selangor mangrove stand. In: Hyde KD, Ho WH, Pointing SB (eds) Aquatic mycology across the millennium. Fungal Divers 5:9-21Google Scholar
  2. Arenz BE, Blanchette RA (2009) Investigations of fungal diversity in wooden structures and soils at historic sites on the Antarctic Peninsula. Can J Microbiol 55:46–56PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arenz BE, Blanchette RA (2010) Distribution and abundance of soil fungi in Antarctica at sites on the Peninsula, Ross Sea Region and McMurdo Dry Valleys. Soil Biol Biochem (in press)Google Scholar
  4. Arenz BE, Held BW, Jurgens JA, Farrell RL, Blanchette RA (2006) Fungal diversity in soils and historic wood from the Ross Sea Region of Antarctica. Soil Biol Biochem 38:3057–3064CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baublis JA, Wharton RA, Volz PA (1991) Diversity of micro-fungi in an Antarctic dry valley. J Basic Microbiol 31:3–12PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bergero R, Girlanda M, Varese GC, Intila D, Luppi AM (1999) Psychrooligotrophic fungi from Arctic soils of Franz Joseph Land. Polar Biol 21:361–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blanchette RA, Held BW, Jurgens JA, McNew DL, Harrington TC, Duncan SM, Farrell RL (2004) Wood destroying soft-rot fungi in the historic expedition huts of Antarctica. Appl Environ Microbiol 70:1328–1335PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Blanchette RA, Held BW, Arenz BE, Jurgens JA, Baltes NJ, Duncan SM, Farrell RL (2010) An Antarctic hot spot for fungi at Shackleton’s historic hut on Cape Royds. Microb Ecol 60:29–38PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Boyd WL, Boyd JW (1963) Soil microorganisms of the McMurdo sound area, Antarctica. Appl Microbiol 11:116–121PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Bridge PD, Spooner BM, Roberts PJ (2009) List of non-lichenized fungi from the Antarctic region.
  11. Connell L, Redman R, Craig S, Rodriquez R (2006) Distribution and abundance of fungi in the soils of Taylor Valley, Antarctica. Soil Biol Biochem 38:3083–3094CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Convey P, Stevens MI, Hodgson DA, Smellie JL, Hillenbrand CD, Barnes DK, Clarke A, Pugh PJ, Linse K, Cary SC (2009) Exploring biological constraints on the glacial history of Antarctica. Quat Sci Rev 28:3035–3048CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. R Development Core Team (2009) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. ISBN 3-900051-07-0, URL
  14. Duncan S, Farrell RL, Thwaites JM, Held BW, Arenz BE, Jurgens JA, Blanchette RA (2006) Endoglucanase-producing fungi isolated from Cape Evans historic expedition hut on Ross Island, Antarctica. Environ Microbiol 8:1212–1219PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Duncan SM, Minasaki R, Farrell RL, Thwaites JM, Held BW, Arenz BE, Jurgens JA, Blanchette RA (2008) Screening fungi isolated from historic Discovery Hut on Ross Island, Antarctica for cellulose degradation. Antarct Sci 20:463–470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gesheva V (2009) Distribution of psychrophilic microorganisms in soils of Terra Nova Bay and Edmonson Point, Victoria and their biosynthetic capabilities. Polar Biol 32:1287–1291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Held BW, Jurgens JA, Arenz BE, Duncan SM, Farrell RL, Blanchette RA (2005) Environmental factors influencing microbial growth inside the historic huts of Ross Island, Antarctica. Int Biodeterior Biodegrad 55:45–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hillebrand H (2004) On the generality of the latitudinal diversity gradient. Am Nat 163:192–211PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ivarson KC (1974) Comparative survival and decomposing ability of four fungi isolated from leaf litter at low temperatures. Can J Soil Sci 54:245–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kerry E (1990) Microorganisms colonizing plants and soil subject to different degrees of human activity, including petroleum contamination in the Vestfold Hills and MacRobertson Land, Antarctica. Polar Biol 10:423–430Google Scholar
  21. Latmore BJ, Goos RD (1978) Wood inhabiting fungi in a freshwater stream in Rhode Island. Mycologia 70:1025–1034CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Line MA (1988) Microbial flora of some soils of Mawson Base and the Vestfold Hills, Antarctica. Polar Biol 8:421–427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Marshall WA (1998) Aerial transport of keratinaceous substrate and distribution of the fungus Geomyces pannorum in Antarctic soils. Microb Ecol 36:212–219PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. NCDC (1996) International Station Meteorological Climate Summary. Version 4.0. CD-ROM. [Available from National Climatic Data Center, 151 Patton Ave., Asheville, NC 28801-5001.]Google Scholar
  25. Ozerskaya SM, Kochkina GA, Ivanushkina NE, Knyazeva EV, Gilichinskii DA (2008) The structure of micromycete complexes in permafrost and cryopegs of the Arctic. Microb 77:482–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Poole I, Cantrill DJ (2006) Cretaceous and Cenozoic vegetation of Antarctica integrating the fossil wood record. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 2006; v. 258; 63–81Google Scholar
  27. Pugh GJF, Jones EBG (1986) Antarctic marine fungi: a preliminary account. In: Moss ST (ed) The biology of marine fungi. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 323–330Google Scholar
  28. Shearer CA (1972) Fungi of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. III. The distribution of wood-inhabiting ascomycetes and Fungi Imperfecti of the Patuxent River. Am J Bot 59:961–969CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Tokoru R (1984) Sand-inhabiting marine fungi from Japanese beaches. Bot Mar 27:567–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Treonis AM, Wall DH (2005) Soil nematodes and desiccation survival in the extreme arid environment of the Antarctic Dry Valleys. Integr Comp Biol 45:741–750PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Vazquez DP, Stevens RD (2004) The latitudinal gradient in niche breadth: concepts and evidence. Am Nat 164:E1–E19PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Vishniac HS (1985) Cryptococcus friedmannii, a new species of yeast from the Antarctic. Mycologia 77:149–153PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Vishniac HS (1996) Biodiversity of yeasts and filamentous microfungi in terrestrial Antarctica ecosystems. Biodivers Conserv 5:1365–1378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Vishniac HS, Hempfling WP (1979) Cryptococcus vishniacii sp. nov., an Antarctic yeast. Int J Syst Bacteriol 29:153–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Vishniac HS, Kurtzman CP (1992) Cryptococcus antarcticus sp. nov. and Cryptococcus albidosimilis sp. nov., basidioblastomycetes from Antarctic soils. Int J Syst Bacteriol 42:547–553CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wall DH, Virginia RA (1999) Controls on soil biodiversity: insights from extreme environments. Appl Soil Ecol 13:137–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Worrall J (1999) Media for selective isolation of Hymenomycetes. Mycologia 83:296–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kevin D. Hyde 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brett E. Arenz
    • 1
  • Benjamin W. Held
    • 1
  • Joel A. Jurgens
    • 1
  • Robert A. Blanchette
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant PathologyUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

Personalised recommendations