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Fungal diversity present on rocks from a polar desert in continental Antarctica assessed using DNA metabarcoding

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We evaluated the fungal diversity associated with carbonate veins and two types of salt encrustation in rocks in a polar desert region of continental Antarctica using DNA a metabarcoding approach. We detected 262,268 reads grouped into 517 amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) assigned to the phyla Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, Mortierellomycota and Mucoromycota. Fourteen ASVs belonging to the genera Trichosporon, Mortierella, Penicillium, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Coprinellus, Pleurotus and Pseudogymnoascus were assessed to be dominant taxa. The fungal communities of the three habitats sampled displayed high diversity indices when compared with other habitats of Antarctica, although differing in detail, with the highest diversity indices in the gypsum crust type 2. Only 48 of the 517 ASVs (9.28%) were detected in all three habitats, including dominant, intermediate and minor components. In contrast with previous studies of fungal communities living in the ultra-extreme conditions of continental Antarctica, application of metabarcoding revealed the DNA of a rich and complex resident fungal community. The ASVs detected included fungi with different ecological roles, with xerophilic, human- and animal-associated, phytopathogenic, saprotrophic, mutualistic, psychrotolerant and cosmopolitan taxa. This sequence diversity may be the result of deposition of fungal propagules over time driven by air currents, precipitation or human activities in the region.

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This study received financial support from CNPq, PROANTAR, FAPEMIG, Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior—Brasil (CAPES), INCT Criosfera 2. GCA de Menezes scholarship was supported by CNPq (151195/2019-6). P. Convey is supported by NERC core funding to the British Antarctic Survey’s ‘Biodiversity, Evolution and Adaptation’ Team. We also thank congresswoman Jô Moraes and the Biological Sciences Institute of the University of Brasilia. This work was funded by the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais; Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico; Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior.

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Correspondence to Luiz Henrique Rosa.

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Communicated by A. Oren.

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de Menezes, G.C.A., Câmara, P.E.A.S., Pinto, O.H.B. et al. Fungal diversity present on rocks from a polar desert in continental Antarctica assessed using DNA metabarcoding. Extremophiles 25, 193–202 (2021).

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