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Composition of microbial communities in aerosol, snow and ice samples from remote glaciated areas (Antarctica, Alps, Andes)

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Author(s): J. Elster | R. J. Delmas | J.-R. Petit | K. Řeháková

Journal: Biogeosciences Discussions
ISSN 1810-6277

Volume: 4;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 1779;
Date: 2007;
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ABSTRACT
Taxonomical and ecological analyses were performed on micro-autotrophs (cyanobacteria and algae together with remnants of diatom valves), micro-fungi (hyphae and spores), bacteria (rod, cocci and red clusters), yeast, and plant pollen extracted from various samples: Alps snow (Mt. Blank area), Andean snow (Illimani, Bolivia), Antarctic aerosol filters (Dumont d'Urville, Terre Adélie), and Antarctic inland ice (Terre Adélie). Three methods for ice and snow sample's pre-concentration were tested (filtration, centrifugation and lyophilisation). Afterwards, cultivation methods for terrestrial, freshwater and marine microorganisms (micro-autotrophs and micro-fungi) were used in combination with liquid and solid media. The main goal of the study was to find out if micro-autotrophs are commonly transported by air masses, and later stored in snow and icecaps around the world. The most striking result of this study was the absence of culturable micro-autotrophs in all studied samples. However, an unusual culturable pigmented prokaryote was found in both alpine snow and aerosol samples. Analyses of many samples and proper statistical analyses (PCA, RDA- Monte Carlo permutation tests) showed that studied treatments highly significantly differ in both microbial community and biotic remnants composition F=9.33, p=0.001. In addition, GLM showed that studied treatments highly significantly differ in numbers of categories of microorganisms and remnants of biological material F=11.45, p=0.00005. The Antarctic aerosol samples were characterised by having red clusters of bacteria, the unusual prokaryote and yeasts. The high mountain snow from the Alps and Andes contained much more culturable heterotrophs. The unusual prokaryote was very abundant, as were coccoid bacteria, red clusters of bacteria, as well as yeasts. The Antarctic ice samples were quite different. These samples had higher numbers of rod bacteria and fungal hyphae. The microbial communities and biological remnants of analysed samples comprises two communities, without a sharp boundary between them: i) the first community includes ubiquitous organisms including contaminants, ii) the second community represents individuals frequently occurring in remote terrestrial cold or hot desert/semi-desert and/or marginal soil-snow-ice ecosystems.

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