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Microb Ecol. 2006 May;51(4):413-21. Epub 2006 Apr 5.

Bacterial diversity in three different Antarctic Cold Desert mineral soils.

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Department of Biotechnology, University of the Western Cape, Bellville 7535, Cape Town, South Africa.


A bacterial phylogenetic survey of three environmentally distinct Antarctic Dry Valley soil biotopes showed a high proportion of so-called "uncultured" phylotypes, with a relatively low diversity of identifiable phylotypes. Cyanobacterial phylotypic signals were restricted to the high-altitude sample, whereas many of the identifiable phylotypes, such as the members of the Actinobacteria, were found at all sample sites. Although the presence of Cyanobacteria and Actinobacteria is consistent with previous culture-dependent studies of microbial diversity in Antarctic Dry Valley mineral soils, many phylotypes identified by 16S rDNA analysis were of groups that have not hitherto been cultured from Antarctic soils. The general belief that such "extreme" environments harbor a relatively low species diversity was supported by the calculation of diversity indices. The detection of a substantial number of uncultured bacterial phylotypes showing low BLAST identities (< 95%) suggests that Antarctic Dry Valley mineral soils harbor a pool of novel psychrotrophic taxa.

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