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Science. 1998 Jun 26;280(5372):2095-8.

Perennial Antarctic lake ice: an oasis for life in a polar desert.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA. 59717, USA.


The permanent ice covers of Antarctic lakes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys develop liquid water inclusions in response to solar heating of internal aeolian-derived sediments. The ice sediment particles serve as nutrient (inorganic and organic)-enriched microzones for the establishment of a physiologically and ecologically complex microbial consortium capable of contemporaneous photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation, and decomposition. The consortium is capable of physically and chemically establishing and modifying a relatively nutrient- and organic matter-enriched microbial "oasis" embedded in the lake ice cover.

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