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Bacterial diversity in snow from mid-latitude mountain areas: Alps, Eastern Anatolia, Karakoram and Himalaya

  • Roberto Sergio Azzoni (a1), Ilario Tagliaferri (a2), Andrea Franzetti (a2), Christoph Mayer (a3), Astrid Lambrecht (a3), Chiara Compostella (a4), Marco Caccianiga (a5), Umberto Filippo Minora (a4), Carlo Alberto Garzonio (a6), Eraldo Meraldi (a7), Claudio Smiraglia (a4), Guglielmina Adele Diolaiuti (a1) and Roberto Ambrosini (a1) (a2)...


Snow can be considered an independent ecosystem that hosts active microbial communities. Snow microbial communities have been extensively investigated in the Arctic and in the Antarctica, but rarely in mid-latitude mountain areas. In this study, we investigated the bacterial communities of snow collected in four glacierized areas (Alps, Eastern Anatolia, Karakoram and Himalaya) by high-throughput DNA sequencing. We also investigated the origin of the air masses that produced the sampled snowfalls by reconstructing back-trajectories. A standardized approach was applied to all the analyses in order to ease comparison among different communities and geographical areas. The bacterial communities hosted from 25 to 211 Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs), and their structure differed significantly between geographical areas. This suggests that snow bacterial communities may largely derive from ‘local’ air bacteria, maybe by deposition of airborne particulate of local origin that occurs during snowfall. However, some evidences suggest that a contribution of bacteria collected during air mass uplift to snow communities cannot be excluded, particularly when the air mass that originated the snow event is particularly rich in dust.

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