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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2010 Feb;8(2):129-38. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2281.

On the rocks: the microbiology of Antarctic Dry Valley soils.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, 3240, New Zealand.


The arid soils of the Antarctic Dry Valleys constitute some of the oldest, coldest, driest and most oligotrophic soils on Earth. Early studies suggested that the Dry Valley soils contained, at best, very low levels of viable microbiota. However, recent applications of molecular methods have revealed a dramatically contrasting picture - a very wide diversity of microbial taxa, many of which are uncultured and taxonomically unique, and a community that seems to be structured solely by abiotic processes. Here we review our understanding of these extreme Antarctic terrestrial microbial communities, with particular emphasis on the factors that are involved in their development, distribution and maintenance in these cold desert environments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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