Insights into community of photosynthetic microorganisms from permafrost

FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2020 Nov 25;96(12):fiaa229. doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiaa229.


This work integrates cultivation studies of Siberian permafrost and analyses of metagenomes from different locations in the Arctic with the aim of obtaining insights into the community of photosynthetic microorganisms in perennially frozen deposits. Cyanobacteria and microalgae have been described in Arctic aquatic and surface soil environments, but their diversity and ability to withstand harsh conditions within the permafrost are still largely unknown. Community structure of photosynthetic organisms in permafrost sediments was explored using Arctic metagenomes available through the MG-RAST. Sequences affiliated with cyanobacteria represented from 0.25 to 3.03% of total sequences, followed by sequences affiliated with Streptophyta (algae and vascular plants) 0.01-0.45% and Chlorophyta (green algae) 0.01-0.1%. Enrichment and cultivation approaches revealed that cyanobacteria and green algae survive in permafrost and they could be revived during prolonged incubation at low light intensity. Among photosynthetic microorganisms isolated from permafrost, the filamentous Oscillatoria-like cyanobacteria and unicellular green algae of the genus Chlorella were dominant. Our findings suggest that permafrost cyanobacteria and green algae are expected to be effective members of the re-assembled community after permafrost thawing and soil collapse.

Keywords: Arctic; cryosol; cyanobacteria; green algae; metagenome; permafrost.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arctic Regions
  • Chlorella*
  • Permafrost*
  • Soil
  • Soil Microbiology


  • Soil