Molecular Identification of Bacteria and Eukarya Inhabiting an Antarctic Cryoconite Hole

Extremophiles. 2003 Jun;7(3):177-83. doi: 10.1007/s00792-002-0309-0. Epub 2003 Jan 30.


Inhabitants of a cryoconite hole formed in the Canada Glacier in the McMurdo Dry Valley region of Antarctica have been isolated and identified by small subunit (16S/18S) rDNA amplification, cloning, and sequencing. The sequences obtained revealed the presence of members of eight bacterial lineages (Acidobacterium, Actinobacteria, Cyanobacteria, Cytophagales, Gemmimonas, Planctomycetes, Proteobacteria, and Verrucomicrobia) and metazoan (nematode, tardigrade, and rotifer), truffle (Choiromyces), ciliate (Spathidium), and green algal (Pleurastrium) Eukarya. Bacterial recovery was approximately 20-fold higher at 4 degrees C and 15 degrees C than at 22 degrees C, and obligately psychrophilic bacteria were identified and isolated. Several of the rDNA molecules amplified from isolates and directly from cryoconite DNA preparations had sequences similar to rDNA molecules of species present in adjacent lake ice and microbial mat environments. This cryoconite hole community was therefore most likely seeded by particulates from these local environments. Cryoconite holes may serve as biological refuges that, on glacial melting, can repopulate the local environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antarctic Regions
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA, Ribosomal / chemistry*
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics*
  • Eukaryotic Cells
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Phylogeny
  • Proteobacteria / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / genetics
  • Temperature


  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S