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J Microbiol. 2012 Feb;50(1):8-16. doi: 10.1007/s12275-012-1251-1. Epub 2012 Feb 27.

Stratified distribution of nutrients and extremophile biota within freshwater ice covering the surface of Lake Baikal.

Author information

1
Limnological Institute, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Ulan-Batorskaya, 3, 664033, Irkutsk, Russia. nina@lin.irk.ru

Abstract

Biological entities and gradients of selected chemicals within the seemingly barren ice layers covering Lake Baikal were investigated. Ice cores 40-68 cm long were obtained from in shore and offshore sites of Southern Lake Baikal during the cold period of a year (March-April) in 2007 and 2008. In microscopic observations of the melted ice, both algae and bacteria were found in considerable numbers (>10(3) cells/L and >10(4) cells/ml, respectively). Among all organisms found, diatom was generally the most predominant taxon in the ice. Interestingly, both planktonic and benthic algae were present in considerable numbers (2-4×10(4) cells/L). Dominant phototrophic picoplankton were comprised of small green algae of various taxa and cyanobacteria of Synechococcus and Cyanobium. The bacterial community consisted mostly of short rod and cocci cells, either free-living or aggregated. Large numbers of yeast-like cells and actinomycete mycelium were also observed. Concentrations of silica, phosphorus, and nitrate were low by an order of magnitude where biota was abundant. The profile of the ice could be interpreted as vertical stratification of nutrients and biomass due to biological activities. Therefore, the organisms in the ice were regarded to maintain high activity while thriving under freezing conditions. Based on the results, it was concluded that the freshwater ice covering the surface of Lake Baikal is considerably populated by extremophilic microorganisms that actively metabolize and form a detritus food chain in the unique large freshwater ecosystem of Lake Baikal.

PMID:
22367932
DOI:
10.1007/s12275-012-1251-1
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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