Eleven aerobic heterotrophic bacteria isolated from soil samples taken at c. 1800 m altitude from La Gorce Mountains, Antarctica, were characterized in terms of carbon source utilization, enzymatic activities and tolerance to environmental stressors. The bacteria typically formed pigmented colonies on agar plates and were initially observed on media designed for isolation of algae and cyanobacteria. The bacteria were purified and assigned to the Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes or Proteobacteria divisions following 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis. While some of the isolates are most likely to belong to the genera Arthrobacter or Brevundimonas, others may belong to novel genera or species. The Gram-positive Actinobacteria used the widest range of carbon sources for growth. Brevundimonas P7 produced lipases, phosphatases, proteases and glycosyl-hydrolases. The Gram-positive bacteria were more tolerant to freeze-thaw than the Gram-negative isolates. No isolates survived more than 10 minutes ultraviolet irradiation. All isolates were unaffected by 24 h desiccation. This study adds to knowledge of the bacterial diversity of soils from high altitude (1800 m), high latitude (86°30'S) locations within Antarctica.
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