Low Temperature Microbiology Meets the Global Challenges of Our Time

A special issue of Microorganisms (ISSN 2076-2607). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Microbiology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2022) | Viewed by 15471

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Polar Terrestrial Environmental Systems, Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
Interests: eco-physiology of psychrophiles; taxonomic and functional diversity; ancient DNA in cryo-environments; cold-active biomolecules

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Low temperature microbiology has recently been thrust into both the scientific and the public spotlight. Some of the big challenges that our society faces relate to the cryosphere and its microbial inhabitants. From the role of permafrost microorganisms in greenhouse gas emission to the use of cold-active enzymes as sustainable biotechnological products, several research fronts are already open. However, many remain unexplored. For example, novel, high-impact study opportunities, such as those involving environmental microbial paleo-genomics and microbial paleo-ecology, as well as the possible threat posed by the re-emergence of old pathogens, are linked to the long-term preservation potential of microbial DNA and cells in ancient ice.

This Special Issue aims to compile scientific contributions on low temperature microbiology with a focus on current and future global challenges. Original research, review, and perspective papers addressing the following topic areas will be considered:

  1. Environmental change: e.g., the taxonomic and functional diversity of microbial communities in polar and alpine regions, biodiversity loss, biotic and abiotic interactions, biological processes and biogeochemical cycles, greenhouse gas production, ice-albedo, etc.
  2. Long-term microbial preservation in nature: e.g., microbial ancient DNA (aDNA), viability and metabolic activity of microorganisms in ancient cryo-environments, old pathogens in melting glaciers and permafrost, etc.
  3. Sustainable bioproducts and bioprocesses: e.g., omics-based approaches to the discovery of functional molecules, expression systems and fermentation strategies, cryo-enzymes, antimicrobials, biosurfactants and other cold-active biomolecules of biotechnological potential, etc.

We look forward to receiving your contributions!

Dr. Amedea Perfumo
Dr. Angelina Lo Giudice
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • cryo-environments
  • global challenges
  • cold-adapted microorganisms
  • biodiversity
  • microbial ancient DNA
  • old pathogens
  • microbial biotechnology
  • cold-active biomolecules

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Editorial

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3 pages, 175 KiB  
Editorial
Low-Temperature Microbiology Meets the Global Challenges of Our Time
by Amedea Perfumo and Angelina Lo Giudice
Microorganisms 2023, 11(5), 1217; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms11051217 - 6 May 2023
Viewed by 1021
Abstract
Low-temperature microbiology is intimately associated with the exploration of the polar regions, and research in recent decades has focused on characterizing the microbial biodiversity of the cryosphere [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low Temperature Microbiology Meets the Global Challenges of Our Time)

Research

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16 pages, 3293 KiB  
Article
Surface Bacterioplankton Community Structure Crossing the Antarctic Circumpolar Current Fronts
by Angelina Cordone, Matteo Selci, Bernardo Barosa, Alessia Bastianoni, Deborah Bastoni, Francesco Bolinesi, Rosaria Capuozzo, Martina Cascone, Monica Correggia, Davide Corso, Luciano Di Iorio, Cristina Misic, Francesco Montemagno, Annarita Ricciardelli, Maria Saggiomo, Luca Tonietti, Olga Mangoni and Donato Giovannelli
Microorganisms 2023, 11(3), 702; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms11030702 - 9 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2130
Abstract
The Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is the major current in the Southern Ocean, isolating the warm stratified subtropical waters from the more homogeneous cold polar waters. The ACC flows from west to east around Antarctica and generates an overturning circulation by fostering deep-cold [...] Read more.
The Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is the major current in the Southern Ocean, isolating the warm stratified subtropical waters from the more homogeneous cold polar waters. The ACC flows from west to east around Antarctica and generates an overturning circulation by fostering deep-cold water upwelling and the formation of new water masses, thus affecting the Earth’s heat balance and the global distribution of carbon. The ACC is characterized by several water mass boundaries or fronts, known as the Subtropical Front (STF), Subantarctic Front (SAF), Polar Front (PF), and South Antarctic Circumpolar Current Front (SACCF), identified by typical physical and chemical properties. While the physical characteristics of these fronts have been characterized, there is still poor information regarding the microbial diversity of this area. Here we present the surface water bacterioplankton community structure based on 16S rRNA sequencing from 13 stations sampled in 2017 between New Zealand to the Ross Sea crossing the ACC Fronts. Our results show a distinct succession in the dominant bacterial phylotypes present in the different water masses and suggest a strong role of sea surface temperatures and the availability of Carbon and Nitrogen in controlling community composition. This work represents an important baseline for future studies on the response of Southern Ocean epipelagic microbial communities to climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low Temperature Microbiology Meets the Global Challenges of Our Time)
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11 pages, 2840 KiB  
Article
Effects of Cold-Surge-Induced Nearshore Seawater Icing on the Eukaryotic Microalgal Community in Aoshan Bay, Qingdao
by Haizhen Bian, Xin Guo, Yanqiang Xu and Yubin Hu
Microorganisms 2023, 11(1), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms11010108 - 31 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1311
Abstract
Climate change has led to frequent cold surges in mid-latitudes, resulting in sudden temperature drops and icing of nearshore seawater, which may be affecting the eukaryotic microalgal community. In this paper, we investigated the differences between a eukaryotic microalgal community in sea ice [...] Read more.
Climate change has led to frequent cold surges in mid-latitudes, resulting in sudden temperature drops and icing of nearshore seawater, which may be affecting the eukaryotic microalgal community. In this paper, we investigated the differences between a eukaryotic microalgal community in sea ice and in seawater during the seawater freezing, due to the cold surge in Aoshan Bay, Qingdao, China, in January 2021. The results showed that the eukaryotic microalgal community in the sea ice and in the seawater was similar in composition at the phylum and genus levels, but that its relative abundances differed. In the seawater, the eukaryotic microalgal genera were dominated by Chaetoceros, while its relative abundance was significantly lower in the sea ice, probably because the cold-surge-induced seawater icing existed only for a short period of time, and Chaetoceros had not yet adapted to the rapid environmental changes in the sea ice. The relative abundance of Bathycoccus in the sea ice was higher, and showed a significant positive correlation with nitrite and silicate, while the relative abundance of Micromonas in the sea ice was also significantly higher than in the seawater, which may be related to the elevated CO2 concentration in the sea ice. This study demonstrates that although the seawater icing due to the cold surge was short, it may have affected the seawater eukaryotic microalgal community, to a certain extent. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low Temperature Microbiology Meets the Global Challenges of Our Time)
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22 pages, 4875 KiB  
Article
Functional Metabolic Diversity of Bacterioplankton in Maritime Antarctic Lakes
by Antonio Picazo, Juan Antonio Villaescusa, Carlos Rochera, Javier Miralles-Lorenzo, Antonio Quesada and Antonio Camacho
Microorganisms 2021, 9(10), 2077; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9102077 - 1 Oct 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2180
Abstract
A summer survey was conducted on the bacterioplankton communities of seven lakes from Byers Peninsula (Maritime Antarctica), differing in trophic and morphological characteristics. Predictions of the metabolic capabilities of these communities were performed with FAPROTAX using 16S rRNA sequencing data. The versatility for [...] Read more.
A summer survey was conducted on the bacterioplankton communities of seven lakes from Byers Peninsula (Maritime Antarctica), differing in trophic and morphological characteristics. Predictions of the metabolic capabilities of these communities were performed with FAPROTAX using 16S rRNA sequencing data. The versatility for metabolizing carbon sources was also assessed in three of the lakes using Biolog Ecoplates. Relevant differences among lakes and within lake depths were observed. A total of 23 metabolic activities associated to the main biogeochemical cycles were foreseen, namely, carbon (11), nitrogen (4), sulfur (5), iron (2), and hydrogen (1). The aerobic metabolisms dominated, although anaerobic respiration was also relevant near the lakes’ bottom as well as in shallow eutrophic lakes with higher nutrient and organic matter contents. Capacity for using carbon sources further than those derived from the fresh autochthonous primary production was detected. Clustering of the lakes based on metabolic capabilities of their microbial communities was determined by their trophic status, with functional diversity increasing with trophic status. Data were also examined using a co-occurrence network approach, indicating that the lakes and their catchments have to be perceived as connected and interacting macrosystems, where either stochastic or deterministic mechanisms for the assembling of communities may occur depending on the lake’s isolation. The hydrological processes within catchments and the potential metabolic plasticity of these biological communities must be considered for future climate scenarios in the region, which may extend the growing season and increase biomass circulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low Temperature Microbiology Meets the Global Challenges of Our Time)
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15 pages, 1640 KiB  
Article
Biodegradation Potential and Putative Catabolic Genes of Culturable Bacteria from an Alpine Deciduous Forest Site
by Caroline Poyntner, Andrea Kutzner and Rosa Margesin
Microorganisms 2021, 9(9), 1920; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9091920 - 10 Sep 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1802
Abstract
Microbiota from Alpine forest soils are key players in carbon cycling, which can be greatly affected by climate change. The aim of this study was to evaluate the degradation potential of culturable bacterial strains isolated from an alpine deciduous forest site. Fifty-five strains [...] Read more.
Microbiota from Alpine forest soils are key players in carbon cycling, which can be greatly affected by climate change. The aim of this study was to evaluate the degradation potential of culturable bacterial strains isolated from an alpine deciduous forest site. Fifty-five strains were studied with regard to their phylogenetic position, growth temperature range and degradation potential for organic compounds (microtiter scale screening for lignin sulfonic acid, catechol, phenol, bisphenol A) at low (5 °C) and moderate (20 °C) temperature. Additionally, the presence of putative catabolic genes (catechol-1,2-dioxygenase, multicomponent phenol hydroxylase, protocatechuate-3,4-dioxygenase) involved in the degradation of these organic compounds was determined through PCR. The results show the importance of the Proteobacteria phylum as its representatives did show good capabilities for biodegradation and good growth at −5 °C. Overall, 82% of strains were able to use at least one of the tested organic compounds as their sole carbon source. The presence of putative catabolic genes could be shown over a broad range of strains and in relation to their degradation abilities. Subsequently performed gene sequencing indicated horizontal gene transfer for catechol-1,2-dioxygenase and protocatechuate-3,4-dioxygenase. The results show the great benefit of combining molecular and culture-based techniques. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low Temperature Microbiology Meets the Global Challenges of Our Time)
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Review

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28 pages, 1476 KiB  
Review
Psychrophilic Bacterial Phosphate-Biofertilizers: A Novel Extremophile for Sustainable Crop Production under Cold Environment
by Asfa Rizvi, Bilal Ahmed, Mohammad Saghir Khan, Shahid Umar and Jintae Lee
Microorganisms 2021, 9(12), 2451; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9122451 - 28 Nov 2021
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 4825
Abstract
Abiotic stresses, including low-temperature environments, adversely affect the structure, composition, and physiological activities of soil microbiomes. Also, low temperatures disturb physiological and metabolic processes, leading to major crop losses worldwide. Extreme cold temperature habitats are, however, an interesting source of psychrophilic and psychrotolerant [...] Read more.
Abiotic stresses, including low-temperature environments, adversely affect the structure, composition, and physiological activities of soil microbiomes. Also, low temperatures disturb physiological and metabolic processes, leading to major crop losses worldwide. Extreme cold temperature habitats are, however, an interesting source of psychrophilic and psychrotolerant phosphate solubilizing bacteria (PSB) that can ameliorate the low-temperature conditions while maintaining their physiological activities. The production of antifreeze proteins and expression of stress-induced genes at low temperatures favors the survival of such organisms during cold stress. The ability to facilitate plant growth by supplying a major plant nutrient, phosphorus, in P-deficient soil is one of the novel functional properties of cold-tolerant PSB. By contrast, plants growing under stress conditions require cold-tolerant rhizosphere bacteria to enhance their performance. To this end, the use of psychrophilic PSB formulations has been found effective in yield optimization under temperature-stressed conditions. Most of the research has been done on microbial P biofertilizers impacting plant growth under normal cultivation practices but little attention has been paid to the plant growth-promoting activities of cold-tolerant PSB on crops growing in low-temperature environments. This scientific gap formed the basis of the present manuscript and explains the rationale for the introduction of cold-tolerant PSB in competitive agronomic practices, including the mechanism of solubilization/mineralization, release of biosensor active biomolecules, molecular engineering of PSB for increasing both P solubilizing/mineralizing efficiency, and host range. The impact of extreme cold on the physiological activities of plants and how plants overcome such stresses is discussed briefly. It is time to enlarge the prospects of psychrophilic/psychrotolerant phosphate biofertilizers and take advantage of their precious, fundamental, and economical but enormous plant growth augmenting potential to ameliorate stress and facilitate crop production to satisfy the food demands of frighteningly growing human populations. The production and application of cold-tolerant P-biofertilizers will recuperate sustainable agriculture in cold adaptive agrosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low Temperature Microbiology Meets the Global Challenges of Our Time)
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