The Role of Bacteria in the Cycling of Nutrients within the Maritime Antarctic Environment

  • A. C. Tanner


The Antarctic is an area of outstanding scientific interest. Early research into the role of micro-organisms in this unique environment centred on the terrestrial habitat, and it is only recently, with the upsurge of interest in the highly productive maritime Antarctic, that the role of micro-organisms in this environment has been considered. Studies of micro-organisms in the Southern Ocean have shown that bacteria exhibit a number of interesting properties, not least that of psychrophilic adaptation. In addition, these bacteria play a crucial role in the cycling of nutrients, and many scientists regard marine bacterial metabolism as a principal feature in the regeneration of primary nutrients. However, detailed, land-based studies have been necessary to elucidate further the complex seasonal interaction that occurs in the micro-flora. Benthic sediments have also proved to be important in mineralization processes in the near-shore maritime Antarctic, and studies in this area have shown that bacterial populations undergo cyclic variations related to a number of important environmental constraints. The taxonomy of these organisms is interesting, in that most of the bacteria isolated have not correlated well with previously described species. Numerical taxonomic methods are, however, proving to be useful. Parallels are emerging between data gathered from the Antarctic and from other environmentally similar areas. The association of bacteria with Krill, Euphausia superba, might be of great importance in nutrient cycling in the Southern Ocean.


Southern Ocean Dissolve Organic Matter Heterotrophic Bacterium Nutrient Regeneration Antarctic Krill 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. C. Tanner
    • 1
  1. 1.Animal Health Development DepartmentPfizer Central ResearchSandwich, KentEngland

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