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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Jan;71(1):123-30.

Seasonal change in bacterial flora and biomass in mountain snow from the Tateyama Mountains, Japan, analyzed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing and real-time PCR.

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Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Ookayama 2-12-1-W3-43, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-8551, Japan.


The bacterial flora and biomass in mountain snow from the Tateyama Mountains, Toyama Prefecture, Japan, one of the heaviest snowfall regions in the world, were analyzed by amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis followed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing and DNA quantification by real-time PCR. Samples of surface snow collected in various months during the melting season contained a psychrophilic bacterium, Cryobacterium psychrophilum, and two psychrotrophic bacteria, Variovorax paradoxus and Janthinobacterium lividum. Bacterial colonies that developed in an in situ meltwater medium at 4 degrees C were revealed to be V. paradoxus. The biomasses of C. psychrophilum, J. lividum, and V. paradoxus, as estimated by real-time PCR, showed large increases during the melting season from March to October (2.0 x 10(5)-fold, 1.5 x 10(5)-fold, and 1.0 x 10(4)-fold increases, respectively), suggesting their rapid growth in the surface snow. The biomasses of C. psychrophilum and J. lividum increased significantly from March to April, reached a maximum in August, and dropped at the end of the melting season. In contrast, the biomass of V. paradoxus did not increase as rapidly during the early melting season but continued to increase from June until October. The differences in development observed among these bacterial species suggest that their growth was promoted by different nutrients and/or environmental conditions in the snow. Since these three types of bacteria have also been reported to be present in a glacier in Antarctica and a Greenland ice core, they seem to be specialized members of the snow biota that are distributed in snow and ice environments in various parts of the world.

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