Microbial Life in the Cold: A Focus on Extreme Aquatic Environments

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Biodiversity and Functionality of Aquatic Ecosystems".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 December 2022) | Viewed by 7725

Special Issue Editors

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Low temperatures characterize, alone or in combination with other environmental factors (e.g. high salinity, osmotic pressure, low nutrient availability), most of the Earth biosphere, with repercussions on living organisms at different levels of the trophic web. Cold environments harbor a remarkably diverse range of liquid water habitats, including rivers, surface and subglacial lakes, sea-ice and lake brines, which are teeming with cold-adapted microbial life. The physical environment shapes the microbial communities by evolutionary adaptation and acclimation responses to long- and short-term variations. Raising temperatures and freezing-thawing phenomena (with their consequences) are among main environmental stressors acting on the microbiota in a global change scenario. With this Special Issue of Water we intend to explore the diversity and survival strategies of cold-adapted microorganisms (including bacteria, archaea, viruses, and eukaryotes), the ecological role played by the microbial communities in biogeochemical cycling (impacting community dynamics at seasonal and spatial scales), and the challenges for life encountered by microorganisms. Therefore, we are looking for experimental studies, reviews, and distributional surveys relating to any aspect of microbial diversity, including origin of life, ecology, astrobiology, molecular biology, physiology, and biotechnology, related to eukaryotes and prokaryotes in liquid cold matrices. Comparative studies on Arctic and Antarctic microbiology will be also welcome.

Dr. Maurizio Azzaro
Dr. Angelina Lo Giudice
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • polar environments
  • cold habitats
  • microbial ecology
  • cold-adapted microbes
  • biogeochemical cycling
  • liquid matrices

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

26 pages, 6289 KiB  
Article
Microbial Community Abundance and Metabolism Close to the Ice-Water Interface of the Blomstrandbreen Glacier (Kongsfjorden, Svalbard): A Sampling Survey Using an Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle
by Maria Papale, Gabriella Caruso, Giovanna Maimone, Rosabruna La Ferla, Angelina Lo Giudice, Alessandro Ciro Rappazzo, Alessandro Cosenza, Filippo Azzaro, Roberta Ferretti, Rodolfo Paranhos, Anderson Souza Cabral, Massimo Caccia, Angelo Odetti, Giuseppe Zappalà, Gabriele Bruzzone and Maurizio Azzaro
Water 2023, 15(3), 556; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15030556 - 31 Jan 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2379
Abstract
Polar marine environments host a complex assemblage of cold-adapted auto- and heterotrophic microorganisms that affect water biogeochemistry and ecosystem functions. However, due to logistical difficulties, remote regions like those in close proximity to glaciers have received little attention, resulting in a paucity of [...] Read more.
Polar marine environments host a complex assemblage of cold-adapted auto- and heterotrophic microorganisms that affect water biogeochemistry and ecosystem functions. However, due to logistical difficulties, remote regions like those in close proximity to glaciers have received little attention, resulting in a paucity of microbiological data. To fill these gaps and obtain novel insights into microbial structure and function in Arctic regions, a survey of microbial communities in an area close to the Blomstrandbreen glacier in Kongsfjorden (Svalbard Archipelago; Arctic Ocean) was carried out during an early summer period. An Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle designed to safely obtain seawater samples from offshore-glacier transects (PROTEUS, Portable RObotic Technology for Unmanned Surveys) was equipped with an automatic remotely-controlled water multi-sampler so that it could sample just beneath the glacier, where access from the sea is difficult and dangerous. The samples were analysed by image analysis for the abundance of total prokaryotes, viable and respiring cells, their morphological traits and biomass; by flow cytometry for autotrophic and prokaryotic cells (with high and low nucleic acid contents) as well as virus-like particle counts; by BIOLOG ECOPLATES for potential community metabolism; and by fluorimetry for potential enzymatic activity rates on organic polymers. Contextually, the main physical and chemical (temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen and nutrients) parameters were detected. Altogether, besides the PROTEUS vehicle’s suitability for collecting samples from otherwise inaccessible sites, the multivariate analysis of the overall dataset allowed the identification of three main sub-regions differently affected by the haline gradient (close to the glacier) or terrigenous inputs coming from the coast. A complex microbiological scenario was depicted by different patterns of microbial abundance and metabolism among the transects, suggesting that ice melting and Atlantic water inflow differently supported microbial growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Life in the Cold: A Focus on Extreme Aquatic Environments)
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12 pages, 1443 KiB  
Article
A First Glimpse on Cold-Adapted PCB-Oxidizing Bacteria in Edmonson Point Lakes (Northern Victoria Land, Antarctica)
by Maria Papale, Angelina Lo Giudice, Alessandro Ciro Rappazzo, Maurizio Azzaro and Carmen Rizzo
Water 2022, 14(1), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14010109 - 5 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1844
Abstract
Antarctic freshwater ecosystems are especially vulnerable to human impacts. Polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) are persistent organic pollutants that have a long lifetime in the environment. Despite their use having either been phased out or restricted, they are still found in nature, also in remote areas. [...] Read more.
Antarctic freshwater ecosystems are especially vulnerable to human impacts. Polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) are persistent organic pollutants that have a long lifetime in the environment. Despite their use having either been phased out or restricted, they are still found in nature, also in remote areas. Once in the environment, the fate of PCBs is strictly linked to bacteria which represent the first step in the transfer of toxic compounds to higher trophic levels. Data on PCB-oxidizing bacteria from polar areas are still scarce and fragmented. In this study, the occurrence of PCB-oxidizing cold-adapted bacteria was evaluated in water and sediment of four coastal lakes at Edmonson Point (Northern Victoria Land, Antarctica). After enrichment with biphenyl, 192 isolates were obtained with 57 of them that were able to grow in the presence of the PCB mixture Aroclor 1242, as the sole carbon source. The catabolic gene bphA, as a proxy for PCB degradation potential, was harbored by 37 isolates (out of 57), mainly affiliated to the genera Salinibacterium, Arthrobacter (among Actinobacteria) and Pusillimonas (among Betaproteobacteria). Obtained results enlarge our current knowledge on cold-adapted PCB-oxidizing bacteria and pose the basis for their potential application as a valuable eco-friendly tool for the recovery of PCB-contaminated cold sites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Life in the Cold: A Focus on Extreme Aquatic Environments)
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24 pages, 8013 KiB  
Article
Ice Melt-Induced Variations of Structural and Functional Traits of the Aquatic Microbial Community along an Arctic River (Pasvik River, Norway)
by Maria Papale, Carmen Rizzo, Gabriella Caruso, Stefano Amalfitano, Giovanna Maimone, Stefano Miserocchi, Rosabruna La Ferla, Paul Eric Aspholm, Franco Decembrini, Filippo Azzaro, Antonella Conte, Marco Graziano, Alessandro Ciro Rappazzo, Angelina Lo Giudice and Maurizio Azzaro
Water 2021, 13(16), 2297; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13162297 - 22 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2406
Abstract
The effects of climate change-induced ice melting on the microbial communities in different glacial-fed aquatic systems have been reported, but seasonal dynamics remain poorly investigated. In this study, the structural and functional traits of the aquatic microbial community were assessed along with the [...] Read more.
The effects of climate change-induced ice melting on the microbial communities in different glacial-fed aquatic systems have been reported, but seasonal dynamics remain poorly investigated. In this study, the structural and functional traits of the aquatic microbial community were assessed along with the hydrological and biogeochemical variation patterns of the Arctic Pasvik River under riverine and brackish conditions at the beginning (May = Ice-melt (−)) and during the ice-melting season (July = Ice-melt (+)). The microbial abundance and morphometric analysis showed a spatial diversification between the riverine and brackish stations. Results highlighted different levels of microbial respiration and activities with different carbon and phosphorous utilization pathways, thus suggesting an active biogeochemical cycling along the river especially at the beginning of the ice-melting period. At Ice-melt (−), Gammaproteobacteria and Alphaproteobacteria were dominant in riverine and brackish stations, respectively. Conversely, at Ice-melt (+), the microbial community composition was more homogeneously distributed along the river (Gammaproteobacteria > Alphaproteobacteria > Bacteroidetes). Our findings provide evidence on how riverine microbial communities adapt and respond to seasonal ice melting in glacial-fed aquatic ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Life in the Cold: A Focus on Extreme Aquatic Environments)
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