Niche specialization of bacteria in permanently ice-covered lakes of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica

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Abstract

Summary

Perennially ice-covered lakes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, are chemically stratified with depth and have distinct biological gradients. Despite long-term research on these unique environments, data on the structure of the microbial communities in the water columns of these lakes are scarce. Here, we examined bacterial diversity in five ice-covered Antarctic lakes by 16S rRNA gene-based pyrosequencing. Distinct communities were present in each lake, reflecting the unique biogeochemical characteristics of these environments. Further, certain bacterial lineages were confined exclusively to specific depths within each lake. For example, candidate division WM88 occurred solely at a depth of 15 m in Lake Fryxell, whereas unknown lineages ofChlorobiwere found only at a depth of 18 m in Lake Miers, and two distinct classes ofFirmicutesinhabited East and West Lobe Bonney at depths of 30 m. Redundancy analysis revealed that community variation of bacterioplankton could be explained by the distinct conditions of each lake and depth; in particular, assemblages from layers beneath the chemocline had biogeochemical associations that differed from those in the upper layers. These patterns of community composition may represent bacterial adaptations to the extreme and unique biogeochemical gradients of ice-covered lakes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys.

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