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Belgica antarctica Jacobs (Diptera: Chironomidae) is the only endemic insect found in the Antarctic Peninsula region and has stimulated considerable research interest. Due to recent rapid changes in regional climate in Antarctica, there is growing interest in studying the responses of this species to environmental changes, in particular at the chromosomal level. Chromosomal inversions are known to play an important role in speciation and adaptation in many insect species, but their frequencies in natural populations are poorly understood. In the current study, we provide the first standard polytene chromosome map for B. antarctica, which will enable the precise location of chromosomal abnormalities in future studies. We further analysed chromosomal polymorphisms in fourth-instar larvae collected from two different locations on Galindez Island, Argentine Islands, western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. We found four previously reported and two new inherited inversions, and we discuss their possible adaptive role in response to environmental stressors in the Antarctic Peninsula region. Our data provide a foundation for future studies exploring the potential role of B. antarctica chromosomal polymorphisms in adaptation to the changing environment.
The natural environment in polar regions is being transformed, glaciers are melting and succession of microarthropods is being observed. We tested the hypothesis that habitat conditions, determined by the locality and character of the vegetation cover, play a significant role in such succession. The material for analysis was collected from four localities on King George Island in Antarctica: Arctowski Station, Demay Refuge, Republica del Ecuador Refuge and Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station. From each locality, 30 samples (grasses, lichens, mosses) were collected and 310 508 microarthropod specimens were recorded, with 17 species (1 Mesostigmata, 9 Oribatida, 7 Collembola species) identified. Based on statistical analyses, it was shown that microarthropod communities differ both in individual localities and selected microhabitats. The greatest number of species was reported in the grass turf, while the greatest number of individuals was recorded in mosses. The dominant species at all the localities was Cryptopygus antarcticus antarcticus (299 203 individuals), which was found in greatest numbers in grasses and mosses. In turn, Tullbergia mixta (2485 individuals) was the dominant species of the lichens. Moreover, the following species, new to King George Island, were also identified: Flagrosuctobelba subcornigera, Liochthonius australis, Membranoppia ventrolaminata and Quadroppia monstruosa belonging to Oribatida as well as Archisotoma brucei belonging to Collembola.
Fungi are probably the most diverse group of eukaryotic organisms in the Antarctic continent and nearby archipelagos, and they dominate communities in either mild or harsh habitats. However, our knowledge of their global distribution ranges and the temporal origins of their Antarctic populations is rather limited or almost absent, especially for species that do not lichenize. We focused for the first time on elucidating the taxonomic identity and phylogenetic relationships of several Antarctic collections of the deadly fungal Basidiomycota genus Galerina. By using molecular sequence data from the universal fungal barcode and a dataset encompassing 178 specimens, the inferred phylogeny showed that the Antarctic specimens corresponded with the sub-cosmopolitan species Galerina marginata, Galerina badipes and Galerina fallax, and their most closely related intraspecific genetic lineages were from northern Europe and North America. We found that these species probably host Antarctic-endemic intraspecific lineages. Furthermore, our dating analyses indicated that their Antarctic populations originated in the Pleistocene, a temporal frame that agrees with that proposed for the Antarctic colonization of plants such as the grass Deschampsia antarctica, mosses and some amphitropical lichens. Altogether, these findings converge on the same temporal scenario for the assembly of the most conspicuous terrestrial Antarctic plant and fungal communities.