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Archaeal diversity revealed in Antarctic sea ice

  • Rebecca O.M. Cowie (a1) (a2), Elizabeth W. Maas (a2) and Ken G. Ryan (a1)

Archaea, once thought to be only extremophiles, are now known to be abundant in most environments. They can predominate in microbial communities and be significantly involved in many global biogeochemical cycles. However, Archaea have not been reported in Antarctic sea ice. Our understanding of the ecology of Antarctic sea ice prokaryotes is still in its infancy but this information is important if we are to understand their diversity, adaptations and biogeochemical roles in Antarctic systems. We detected Archaea in sea ice at two sampling sites taken from three subsequent years using conserved 16S rRNA gene archaeal primers and PCR. Archaeal abundance was measured using quantitative PCR and community diversity was investigated by sequencing cloned 16S rRNA gene PCR products. Archaea in Antarctic sea ice were found to be in low abundance consisting of ≤ 6.6% of the prokaryotic community. The majority, 90.8% of the sequences, clustered with the recently described phylum Thaumarchaeota, one group closely clustered with the ammonia-oxidizing Candidatus Nitrosopumilus maritimus. The remainder of the clones grouped with the Euryarchaeota.

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Antarctic Science
  • ISSN: 0954-1020
  • EISSN: 1365-2079
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