The Hidden Life of Antarctic Rocks
Microbes are able to colonize almost every part on Earth where liquid water is available, and rocks are not an exception. Moreover, in extremely dry and harsh places, like some found in Antarctica, rocks may represent the main refuge for life. Despite its relevance, our understanding of lithobiontic communities is just at the beginnings. In this chapter we present a brief history of research on Antarctic lithobiontic communities and summarize recent advances in our understanding of this fascinating microbial world. We point up methodological approximations used for its characterization, microbial diversity of lithobionts, and the identification of functional traits that drive lithobiont survival and community assembly. These extreme environmental niches can be considered a barely explored source of microbial life whose function in global processes such as global climate changes remains unclear. Understanding the adaptations that allow lithobionts to successfully compete in their environment is a quest for understanding the fundamentals of life.
KeywordsLithobiontic communities Rock environment Carbon input Nitrogen input Adaptation
Programa de Desarrollo de las Ciencias Básicas (PEDECIBA) and Agencia Nacional de Investigación e Innovación (POS_NAC_2016_1_ 129907).
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