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ISME J. 2009 Jun;3(6):658-65. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2009.25. Epub 2009 Mar 26.

Biogeography of two cold-adapted genera: Psychrobacter and Exiguobacterium.

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  • 1Center for Microbial Ecology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.


The genera Exiguobacterium and Psychrobacter have been frequently detected in and isolated from polar permafrost and ice. These two genera have members that can grow at temperatures as low as -5 and -10 degrees C, respectively. We used quantitative PCR (Q-PCR) to quantify members of these genera in 54 soil or sediment samples from polar, temperate and tropical environments to determine to what extent they are selected by cold environments. These results were further analyzed by multiple linear regression to identify the most relevant environmental factors corresponding to their distribution. Exiguobacterium was detected in all three climatic zones at similar densities, but was patchier in the temperate and tropical samples. Psychrobacter was present in almost all polar samples, was at highest densities in Antarctica sediment samples, but was in very low densities and infrequently detected in temperate and tropical soils. Clone libraries, specific for the 16S rRNA gene for each genus, were constructed from a sample from each climatic region. The clone libraries were analyzed for alpha and beta diversities, as well as for variation in population structure by using analysis of molecular variance. Results confirm that both genera were found in all three climatic zones; however, Psychrobacter populations seemed to be much more diverse than Exiguobacterium in all three climatic zones. Furthermore, Psychrobacter populations from Antarctica are different from those in Michigan and Puerto Rico, which are similar to each other.

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