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Bacteria beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Lanoil, Brian D. and Skidmore, Mark and Priscu, John C. and Han, Sukkyun and Foo, Wilson and Vogel, Stefan W. and Tulaczyk, Slawek and Engelhardt, Hermann (2008) Bacteria beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Environmental Microbiology, 11 (3). pp. 609-615. ISSN 1462-2912. doi:10.1111/j.1462-2920.2008.01831.x.

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Subglacial environments, particularly those that lie beneath polar ice sheets, are beginning to be recognized as an important part of Earth's biosphere. However, except for indirect indications of microbial assemblages in subglacial Lake Vostok, Antarctica, no sub-ice sheet environments have been shown to support microbial ecosystems. Here we report 16S rRNA gene and isolate diversity in sediments collected from beneath the Kamb Ice Stream, West Antarctic Ice Sheet and stored for 15 months at 4°C. This is the first report of microbes in samples from the sediment environment beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet. The cells were abundant (-10^7 cells g^(−1)) but displayed low diversity (only five phylotypes), likely as a result of enrichment during storage. Isolates were cold tolerant and the 16S rRNA gene diversity was a simplified version of that found in subglacial alpine and Arctic sediments and water. Although in situ cell abundance and the extent of wet sediments beneath the Antarctic ice sheet can only be roughly extrapolated on the basis of this sample, it is clear that the subglacial ecosystem contains a significant and previously unrecognized pool of microbial cells and associated organic carbon that could potentially have significant implications for global geochemical processes.

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Additional Information:© 2009 The Authors. Received 22 July, 2008; accepted 31 October, 2008. We would like to thank Lisa Stein, James Borneman and Marylynn Yates for critical reading of early drafts of the manuscript. We would like to thank Martyn Tranter for helpful discussions regarding the porewater chemistry. We would like to thank anonymous reviewers for comments that greatly improved the clarity of this manuscript. This work was supported by NSF 0314293 to B.D.L. and 0440943 to J.C.P. through the Office of Polar Programs. The sequences were deposited in GenBank under accession numbers EU030484-EU030496 and FJ477325-FJ477333.
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Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20090910-103645334
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:15725
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:10 Sep 2009 18:00
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 23:21

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