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Can J Microbiol. 2011 Apr;57(4):303-15. doi: 10.1139/w11-004.

Microbial diversity of active layer and permafrost in an acidic wetland from the Canadian High Arctic.

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Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, QC, Canada.


The abundance and structure of archaeal and bacterial communities from the active layer and the associated permafrost of a moderately acidic (pH < 5.0) High Arctic wetland (Axel Heiberg Island, Nunavut, Canada) were investigated using culture- and molecular-based methods. Aerobic viable cell counts from the active layer were ∼100-fold greater than those from the permafrost (2.5 × 10(5) CFU·(g soil dry mass)(-1)); however, a greater diversity of isolates were cultured from permafrost, as determined by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Isolates from both layers demonstrated growth characteristics of a psychrotolerant, halotolerant, and acidotolerant community. Archaea constituted 0.1% of the total 16S rRNA gene copy number and, in the 16S rRNA gene clone library, predominantly (71% and 95%) consisted of Crenarchaeota related to Group I. 1b. In contrast, bacterial communities were diverse (Shannon's diversity index, H = ∼4), with Acidobacteria constituting the largest division of active layer clones (30%) and Actinobacteria most abundant in permafrost (28%). Direct comparisons of 16S rRNA gene sequence data highlighted significant differences between the bacterial communities of each layer, with the greatest differences occurring within Actinobacteria. Comparisons of 16S rRNA gene sequences with those from other Arctic permafrost and cold-temperature wetlands revealed commonly occurring taxa within the phyla Chloroflexi, Acidobacteria, and Actinobacteria (families Intrasporangiaceae and Rubrobacteraceae).

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