Chapter 1 : Bacterial Diversity in Polar Habitats

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This chapter talks about the development of culture-independent, molecular methods that have revolutionized the field and the understanding of molecular ecology. Through the use of these techniques, it is now apparent that the earlier culture-based studies were not a representative reflection of the dominant microorganisms in many psychrophilic habitats. Cyanobacteria present in Dry Valleys mineral soils are considered to be the major primary producers and contribute significantly to microbial diversity. Lithic communities are classified by the specific environmental niche they reside in, and hypoliths, chasmoliths, and cryptoendoliths are further discussed in this chapter. The majority of bacteria isolated from permafrost are aerobic and include a number of coryneforms, endospore formers, sulfate reducers, nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria, and cellulose degraders. The microbial mat bacterial diversity of 10 Dry Valleys lakes was assessed by culturing techniques (heterotrophic growth conditions and fatty acid analysis). Microbial mats from Markham and Ward Hunt Ice Shelves showed species homogeneity in the vertical profile, which has not been seen previously in Antarctic mats, possibly due to differences in mat thickness. The stratified Antarctic mats from the McMurdo Ice Shelf were up to 8 cm thick in places, while the Arctic mats in this study were approximately 2 cm. Using metagenomic methods researchers can assess the diversity of culturable and uncultured organisms, including rare taxa.

Citation: Kirby B, Easton S, Tuffin I, Cowan D. 2012. Bacterial Diversity in Polar Habitats, p 3-31. In Miller R, Whyte L (ed), Polar Microbiology: Life in a Deep Freeze. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817183.ch1

Key Concept Ranking

Microbial Ecology
Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism
Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis
Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism
Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis
Microbial Communities in Environment
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Summary of the findings from key bacterial diversity studies for Antarctic habitats as determined by culture-based and metagenomic techniques

Citation: Kirby B, Easton S, Tuffin I, Cowan D. 2012. Bacterial Diversity in Polar Habitats, p 3-31. In Miller R, Whyte L (ed), Polar Microbiology: Life in a Deep Freeze. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817183.ch1

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