Polar Biology

, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 1185–1196 | Cite as

Freshwater diatom biogeography and the genus Luticola: an extreme case of endemism in Antarctica

  • J. P. Kociolek
  • K. Kopalová
  • S. E. Hamsher
  • T. J. Kohler
  • B. Van de Vijver
  • P. Convey
  • D. M. McKnight


Historical views have characterized Antarctica as a frozen desert with low diversity, although recent studies suggest that this may not be true for microscopic organisms. For microbes, assessing endemism in the Antarctic region has been particularly important, especially against a backdrop of debate regarding their presumed cosmopolitan nature. To contribute to this conversation, we highlight the observed endemism of the freshwater diatom genus Luticola in Antarctica by synthesizing the results of a modern high-resolution taxonomy from the Continental, Maritime, and sub-Antarctic regions. We report that Luticola has one of the highest endemic rates of any diatom genus in Antarctica, in terms of total number of species (taxon endemism) and percentage of the entire genus (phylogenetic endemism). Of the over 200 species of Luticola globally, nearly 20% (43) occur in the Antarctic, with 42 of these being endemic. Within regions, Maritime Antarctica has the largest number of Luticola species and endemics (28 and 23, respectively), followed by Continental Antarctica (14, 9) and sub-Antarctic islands (8, 6). Thus, 38 of the 42 endemics are found in a single region only. While the timing of Luticola diversification has not been established, fossil evidence suggests recent invasions and/or diversification over a relatively short geologic timescale. Understanding the origin and evolution of endemic diatom species in Antarctica will help us better understand microbial biogeography, as well as assess and interpret impacts of large-scale environmental change taking place at southern latitudes.


Dry Valleys Bacillariophyta Sub-Antarctic islands Cryosphere Ubiquity hypothesis James Ross Island 



Funding was provided by the MCMLTER (NSFOPP-9211773, OPP-9810219, OPP-424 0096250, and OPP-1115245 over the years) and by NSF Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Program Award OPP-0839020. We acknowledge the collaboration with Sarah Spaulding and Diana Nemergut. Kateřina Kopalová received financial support 427 from "Nadání Josefa, Maria a Zdeňky Hlávkových" and "Nadace Český literární fond" 428 for her travel to the University of Colorado, Boulder.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. P. Kociolek
    • 1
    • 2
  • K. Kopalová
    • 3
  • S. E. Hamsher
    • 1
  • T. J. Kohler
    • 3
    • 4
  • B. Van de Vijver
    • 5
    • 6
  • P. Convey
    • 7
  • D. M. McKnight
    • 4
  1. 1.Museum of Natural History, UCB 218University of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  3. 3.Department of Ecology, Faculty of ScienceCharles University in PraguePrague 2Czech Republic
  4. 4.Institute of Arctic and Alpine ResearchUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  5. 5.Department of Bryophyta and ThallophytaBotanic Garden MeiseMeiseBelgium
  6. 6.Department of Biology, ECOBEUniversity of AntwerpWilrijkBelgium
  7. 7.British Antarctic SurveyCambridgeUK

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