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Environ Microbiol. 2006 Jul;8(7):1177-90.

Site-specific variation in Antarctic marine biofilms established on artificial surfaces.

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Biological Sciences Department, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.


The community structure and composition of marine microbial biofilms established on glass surfaces was investigated across three differentially contaminated Antarctic sites within McMurdo Sound. Diverse microbial communities were revealed at all sites using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) techniques. Sequencing of excised DGGE bands demonstrated close affiliation with known psychrophiles or undescribed bacteria also recovered from the Antarctic environment. The majority of bacterial sequences were affiliated to the Gammaproteobacteria, Cytophaga/Flavobacteria of Bacteroidetes (CFB), Verrucomicrobia and Planctomycetales. Principal components analysis of quantitative FISH data revealed distinct differences in community composition between sites. Each of the sites were dominated by different bacterial groups: Alphaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria and CFB at the least impacted site, Cape Armitage; green sulfur and sulfate reducing bacteria near the semi-impacted Scott Base and Planctomycetales and sulfate reducing bacteria near the highly impacted McMurdo Station. The highest abundance of archaea was detected near Scott Base (2.5% of total bacteria). Multivariate analyses (non-metric multidimensional scaling and analysis of similarities) of DGGE patterns revealed greater variability in community composition between sites than within sites. This is the first investigation of Antarctic biofilm structure and FISH results suggest that anthropogenic impacts may influence the complex composition of microbial communities.

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