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Open AccessArticle

The Biodiversity and Geochemistry of Cryoconite Holes in Queen Maud Land, East Antarctica

1
GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
2
University of South Carolina, School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment, 701 Sumter St., EWS 617, Columbia, SC 29208, USA
3
Department of Earth Sciences, Free University of Berlin, 12249 Berlin, Germany
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Current address: Agroscope, Mueller-Thurgau-Strasse 29, 8820 Wädenswil, Switzerland.
Microorganisms 2019, 7(6), 160; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms7060160
Received: 26 April 2019 / Revised: 23 May 2019 / Accepted: 29 May 2019 / Published: 1 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ice and Snow Microbiology)
Cryoconite holes are oases of microbial diversity on ice surfaces. In contrast to the Arctic, where during the summer most cryoconite holes are ‘open’, in Continental Antarctica they are most often ‘lidded’ or completely frozen year-round. Thus, they represent ideal systems for the study of microbial community assemblies as well as carbon accumulation, since individual cryoconite holes can be isolated from external inputs for years. Here, we use high-throughput sequencing of the 16S and 18S rRNA genes to describe the bacterial and eukaryotic community compositions in cryoconite holes and surrounding lake, snow, soil and rock samples in Queen Maud Land. We cross correlate our findings with a broad range of geochemical data including for the first time 13C and 14C analyses of Antarctic cryoconites. We show that the geographic location has a larger effect on the distribution of the bacterial community compared to the eukaryotic community. Cryoconite holes are distinct from the local soils in both 13C and 14C and their isotopic composition is different from similar samples from the Arctic. Carbon contents were generally low (≤0.2%) and older (6–10 ky) than the surrounding soils, suggesting that the cryoconite holes are much more isolated from the atmosphere than the soils. View Full-Text
Keywords: Cryoconite holes; Antarctica; high-throughput sequencing; bacteria; eukaryotes; carbon; 13C; 14C Cryoconite holes; Antarctica; high-throughput sequencing; bacteria; eukaryotes; carbon; 13C; 14C
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lutz, S.; Ziolkowski, L.A.; Benning, L.G. The Biodiversity and Geochemistry of Cryoconite Holes in Queen Maud Land, East Antarctica. Microorganisms 2019, 7, 160.

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