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Cyanobacterial diversity for an anthropogenic impact assessment in the Sør Rondane Mountains area, Antarctica

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 December 2011

Rafael Fernández-Carazo
Affiliation:
Centre for Protein Engineering, Institute of Chemistry B6, University of Liège, 4000 Liège, Belgium
Zorigto Namsaraev
Affiliation:
Centre for Protein Engineering, Institute of Chemistry B6, University of Liège, 4000 Liège, Belgium Winogradsky Institute of Microbiology, Russian Academy of Sciences, 117312 Moscow, Russia
Marie-Jose Mano
Affiliation:
Centre for Protein Engineering, Institute of Chemistry B6, University of Liège, 4000 Liège, Belgium
Damien Ertz
Affiliation:
Départment Bryophyta-Thallophyta, National Botanical Garden of Belgium, Domain of Bouchout, 1860 Meise, Belgium
Annick Wilmotte
Affiliation:
Centre for Protein Engineering, Institute of Chemistry B6, University of Liège, 4000 Liège, Belgium
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

The recently inaugurated Belgian Princess Elisabeth Station has been built in the Sør Rondane Mountains (Dronning Maud Land). The construction site is situated close to the Utsteinen Nunatak (71°57′S, 23°20′E), on a granite ridge. Prior to the survey and construction activities, the site had been subject to limited or no direct human impacts. Therefore, a biological inventory has been started for future evaluations of human impacts in the area. This study presents the cyanobacterial diversity of ten samples from the Utsteinen ridge, the Utsteinen Nunatak in the vicinity of the station's site and the more distant Ketelersbreen Dry Valley. All samples were taken before the station was built and were studied by light microscopy and Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis. Two strains were also isolated. Two different phenol-based extraction methods, with and without detergent-based steps, were tested to improve the quality of molecular detection from these environmental samples. We observed high cyanobacterial diversity (ten morphotypes and 13 operational taxonomic units) in comparison to other Antarctic terrestrial locations and a widespread distribution pattern within the Sør Rondane Mountains area. This might reflect the habitat similarities and/or the easy local dispersal capabilities of microorganisms within the region. The high diversity and proportion of potential endemic (46%) operational taxonomic units, of which 23% were newly described, suggest that this area could have acted as a biological refuge during past glaciations.

Type
Biological Sciences
Copyright
Copyright © Antarctic Science Ltd 2012

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