Skip to main content

The identification of environmental parameters which could influence soil bacterial community composition on the Antarctic Peninsula - a statistical approach

  • C.W. Chong (a1), D.A. Pearce (a2), P. Convey (a2) and I.K.P. Tan (a1)

We adopted a statistical approach to identify environmental parameters which might be important in structuring the bacterial community in soils on the Antarctic Peninsula. An assessment of soil bacterial community composition at six environmentally distinct locations was made using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) profiling. All locations are near to Rothera Point, on Reptile Ridge and adjacent islands in Ryder Bay, off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, and were selected to maximize the range of environmental variability easily accessible from Rothera Station. A range of environmental variables was determined, and a Spearman rank correlation test was used to link the community structure and environmental variables. We demonstrated that the taxonomic distribution of the soil bacteria among the six study sites was relatively even, especially among the islands within Ryder Bay, although each location possessed a distinct community structure. Significant differences in the environmental conditions and soil chemical parameters allowed us to identify differences in location and soil pH as the environmental variables that could most probably explain the soil bacterial community patterns. This observation is consistent with an increasing number of studies from both Arctic and Antarctic locations, and will contribute to the design of future parameter-specific studies to test the potential functional significance of pH to the Antarctic soil bacterial community.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The identification of environmental parameters which could influence soil bacterial community composition on the Antarctic Peninsula - a statistical approach
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The identification of environmental parameters which could influence soil bacterial community composition on the Antarctic Peninsula - a statistical approach
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The identification of environmental parameters which could influence soil bacterial community composition on the Antarctic Peninsula - a statistical approach
      Available formats
Corresponding author
Hide All
Aislabie J.M., Jordan S.Barker G.M. 2008. Relation between soil classification and bacterial diversity in soils of the Ross Sea region, Antarctica. Geoderma, 144, 920.
Aislabie J., Jordan S., Ayton J., Klassen J.L., Barker G.M.Turner S. 2009. Bacterial diversity associated with ornithogenic soil of the Ross Sea region, Antarctica. Canadian Journal of Microbiology, 55, 2136.
Anderson M.J., Gorley R.N.Clarke K.R. 2008. PERMANOVA+ for PRIMER: guide to software and statistical methods. Plymouth: PRIMER-E, 214 pp.
Ashelford K.E., Chuzhanova N.A., Fry J.C., Jones A.J.Weightman A.J. 2005. At least 1 in 20 16S rRNA sequence records currently held in public repositories is estimated to contain substantial anomalies. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 71, 77247736.
Ashelford K.E., Chuzhanova N.A., Fry J.C., Jones A.J.Weightman A.J. 2006. New screening software shows that most recent large 16S rRNA gene clone libraries contain chimeras. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 72, 57345741.
Bååth E. 1996. Adaptation of soil bacterial communities to prevailing pH in different soils. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 19, 227237.
Bokhorst S., Huiskes A., Convey P.Aerts R. 2007. External nutrient inputs into terrestrial ecosystems of the Falkland Islands and the Maritime Antarctic region. Polar Biology, 30, 13151321.
Bridge P.D.Newsham K.K. 2009. Soil fungal community composition at Mars Oasis, a southern Maritime Antarctic site, assessed by PCR amplification and cloning. Fungal Ecology, 2, 6674.
Bryant J.A., Lamanna C., Morlon H., Kerkhoff A.J., Enquist B.J.Green J.L. 2008. Colloquium paper: microbes on mountainsides: contrasting elevational patterns of bacterial and plant diversity. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the United States of America, 105, 11 50511 511.
Cannone N., Diolaiuti G., Guglielmin M.Smiraglia C. 2008a. Accelerating climate change impacts on alpine glacier forefield ecosystems in the European Alps. Ecological Applications, 18, 637648.
Cannone N., Wagner D., Hubberten H.W.Guglielmin M. 2008b. Biotic and abiotic factors influencing soil properties across a latitudinal gradient in Victoria Land, Antarctica. Geoderma, 144, 5065.
Cary S.C., McDonald I.R., Barrett J.E.Cowan D.A. 2010. On the rocks: the microbiology of Antarctic Dry Valley soils. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 8, 129138.
Chong C.W., Tan G.Y.A., Wong R.C.S., Riddle M.J.Tan I.K.P. 2009b. DGGE fingerprinting of bacteria in soils from eight ecologically different sites around Casey Station, Antarctica. Polar Biology, 32, 853860.
Chong C.W., Dunn M.J., Convey P., Tan G.Y.A., Wong R.C.S.Tan I.K.P. 2009a. Environmental influences on bacterial diversity of soils on Signy Island, Maritime Antarctic. Polar Biology, 32, 15711582.
Chong C.W., Pearce D.A., Convey P., Tan G.Y.A., Wong R.C.S.Tan I.K.P. 2010. High levels of spatial heterogeneity in the biodiversity of soil prokaryotes on Signy Island, Antarctica. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 42, 601610.
Chown S.L.Convey P. 2007. Spatial and temporal variability across life's hierarchies in the terrestrial Antarctic. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, B362, 23072331.
Chu H., Fierer N., Lauber C.L., Caporaso J.G., Knight R.Grogan P. 2010. Soil bacterial diversity in the Arctic is not fundamentally different from that found in other biomes. Environmental Microbiology, 12, 29983006.
Clarke K.R., Somerfield P.J.Gorley R.N. 2008. Testing of null hypotheses in exploratory community analyses: similarity profiles and biota-environment linkage. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 366, 5669.
Convey P. 2003. Maritime Antarctic climate change: signals from terrestrial biology. Antarctic Research Series, 79, 145158.
Convey P.Smith R.I.L. 1997. The terrestrial arthropod fauna and its habitats in northern Marguerite Bay and Alexander Island, Maritime Antarctic. Antarctic Science, 9, 1226.
Convey P., Block W.Peat H.J. 2003. Soil arthropods as indicators of water stress in Antarctic terrestrial habitats? Global Change Biology, 9, 17181730.
Cowan D., Pointing S., Stevens M., Cary S.C., Stomeo F.Tuffin I. 2011. Distribution and abiotic influences on hypolithic microbial communities in an Antarctic Dry Valley. Polar Biology, 34, 307311.
Culman S.W., Bukowski R., Gauch H.G., Cadillo-Quiroz H.Buckley D.H. 2009. T-REX: software for the processing and analysis of T-RFLP data. BMC Bioinformatics, 10, 171.
Fell J.W., Scorzetti G., Connell L.Craig S. 2006. Biodiversity of micro-eukaryotes in Antarctic Dry Valley soils with < 5% soil moisture. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 38, 31073119.
Fierer N., Bradford M.A.Jackson R.B. 2007. Toward an ecological classification of soil bacteria. Ecology, 88, 13541364.
Foong C.P., Wong Vui Ling C.M.González M. 2010. Metagenomic analyses of the dominant bacterial community in the Fildes Peninsula, King George Island (South Shetland Islands). Polar Science, 4, 263273.
Ganzert L., Lipski A., Hubberten H.W.Wagner D. 2011. The impact of different soil parameters on the community structure of dominant bacteria from nine different soils located on Livingston Island, South Shetland Archipelago, Antarctica. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 76, 476491.
Gold W.G.Bliss L.C. 1995. Water limitations and plant community development in a polar desert. Ecology, 76, 15581568.
Griffiths C.J.Oglethorpe R.D.J. 1998. The stratigraphy and geochronology of Adelaide Island. Antarctic Science, 10, 462475.
Hartman W.H., Richardson C.J., Vilgalys R.Bruland G.L. 2008. Environmental and anthropogenic controls over bacterial communities in wetland soils. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105, 17 84217 847.
Konopka A., Zakharova T., Bischoff M., Oliver L., Nakatsu C.Turco R.F. 1999. Microbial biomass and activity in lead-contaminated soil. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 65, 22562259.
Kursar T.A., Engelbrecht B.M.J.Tyree M.T. 2005. A comparison of methods for determining soil water availability in two sites in Panama with similar rainfall but distinct tree communities. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 21, 297305.
Liu W.T., Marsh T.L., Cheng H.Forney L.J. 1997. Characterization of microbial diversity by determining terminal restriction fragment length polymorphisms of genes encoding 16S rRNA. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 63, 45164522.
Männistö M.K., Tiirola M.Häggblom M.M. 2007. Bacterial communities in Arctic fjelds of Finnish Lapland are stable but highly pH-dependent. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 59, 452465.
Margesin R., Jud M., Tscherko D.Schinner F. 2009. Microbial communities and activities in alpine and subalpine soils. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 67, 208218.
Newsham K.K., Pearce D.A.Bridge P.D. 2010. Minimal influence of water and nutrient content on the bacterial community composition of a Maritime Antarctic soil. Microbiological Research, 165, 523530.
Nygård T., Lie E., Røv N.Steinnes E. 2001. Metal dynamics in an Antarctic food chain. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 42, 598602.
Pearce D.A., Bridge P.D., Hughes K.A., Sattler B., Psenner R.Russell N.J. 2009. Microorganisms in the atmosphere over Antarctica. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 69, 143157.
Pointing S.B., Chan Y., Lacap D.C., Lau M.C.Y., Jurgens J.A.Farrell R.L. 2010. Highly specialized microbial diversity in hyper-arid polar desert. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107, 12541254.
Santos I.R., Silva-Filho E.V., Schaefer C.E.G.R., Albuquerque-Filho M.R.Campos L.S. 2005. Heavy metal contamination in coastal sediments and soils near the Brazilian Antarctic Station, King George Island. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 50, 185194.
Schloss P.D., Westcott S.L., Ryabin T., Hall J.R., Hartmann M., Hollister E.B., Lesniewski R.A., Oakley B.B., Parks D.H., Robinson C.J., Sahl J.W., Stres B., Thallinger G.G., van Horn D.J.Weber C.F. 2009. Introducing mothur: open-source, platform-independent, community-supported software for describing and comparing microbial communities. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 75, 75377541.
Schütte U., Abdo Z., Bent S., Shyu C., Williams C., Pierson J.Forney L. 2008. Advances in the use of terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis of 16S rRNA genes to characterize microbial communities. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 80, 365380.
Seymour F.A., Crittenden P.D., Wirtz N., Øvstedal D.O., Dyer P.S.Lumbsch H.T. 2007. Phylogenetic and morphological analysis of Antarctic lichen-forming Usnea species in the group Neuropogon. Antarctic Science, 19, 7182.
Shravage B.V., Dayananda K.M., Patole M.S.Shouche Y.S. 2007. Molecular microbial diversity of a soil sample and detection of ammonia oxidizers from Cape Evans, McMurdo Dry Valley, Antarctica. Microbiological Research, 162, 1525.
Smith C.J., Danilowicz B.S., Clear A.K., Costello F.J., Wilson B.Meijer W.G. 2005. T-Align, a web-based tool for comparison of multiple terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism profiles. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 54, 375380.
Teixeira L.C.R.S., Peixoto R.S., Cury J.C., Sul W.J., Pellizari V.H., Tiedje J.Rosado A.S. 2010. Bacterial diversity in rhizosphere soil from Antarctic vascular plants of Admiralty Bay, Maritime Antarctica. The ISME Journal, 4, 9891001.
Tindall B.J. 2004. Prokaryotic diversity in the Antarctic: the tip of the iceberg. Microbial Ecology, 47, 271283.
Yergeau E., Newsham K.K., Pearce D.A.Kowalchuk G.A. 2007. Patterns of bacterial diversity across a range of Antarctic terrestrial habitats. Environmental Microbiology, 9, 26702682.
Zwart G., Crump B.C., Agterveld M.P.K.-V., Hagen F.Han S.-K. 2002. Typical freshwater bacteria: an analysis of available 16S rRNA gene sequences from plankton of lakes and rivers. Aquatic Microbial Ecology, 28, 141155.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Antarctic Science
  • ISSN: 0954-1020
  • EISSN: 1365-2079
  • URL: /core/journals/antarctic-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Chong supplementary materials

 Word (246 KB)
246 KB


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 6
Total number of PDF views: 124 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 113 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.