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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2011 Jun;76(3):476-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2011.01068.x. Epub 2011 Mar 18.

The impact of different soil parameters on the community structure of dominant bacteria from nine different soils located on Livingston Island, South Shetland Archipelago, Antarctica.

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Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Research Unit Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany.


Microorganisms inhabit very different soil habitats in the ice-free areas of Antarctica, playing a major role in nutrient cycling in cold environments. We studied the soil characteristics and the dominant bacterial composition from nine different soil profiles located on Livingston Island (maritime Antarctica). The total carbon (TC) and total nitrogen (TN) values were high for the vegetated soils, decreasing with depth, whereas the values for the mineral soils were generally low. Soil pH was more acidic for moss-covered soils and neutral to alkaline for mineral soils. Numbers of culturable heterotrophic bacteria were higher at vegetated sites, but significant numbers were also detectable in carbon-depleted soils. Patterns of denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) revealed a highly heterogeneous picture throughout the soil profiles. Subsequent sequencing of DGGE bands revealed in total 252 sequences that could be assigned to 114 operational taxonomic units, showing the dominance of members of the Bacteroidetes and Acidobacteria. The results of phospholipid fatty acid analysis showed a lack of unsaturated fatty acids for most of the samples. Samples with a prevalence of unsaturated over saturated fatty acids were restricted to several surface samples. Statistical analysis showed that the dominant soil bacterial community composition is most affected by TC and TN contents and soil physical factors such as grain size and moisture, but not pH.

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