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Proceedings Paper

Microbial activity and phylogeny in ice cores retrieved from Lake Paula, a newly detected freshwater lake in Antarctica
Author(s): Birgit I. Sattler; Sebastian Waldhuber; Helgard Fischer; Hans Semmler; Paul P. Sipiera; Roland Psenner
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Paper Abstract

A permanent ice covered water body, called Lake Paula, was detected in Patriot Hills in the West Antarctic and sampled for the first time ever for microbial life. The ice sheet measured approximately 2,5m thickness and the water body has a depth of about 10m. The lake is situated near a moraine which partly ablates from snow and provides meltwater from the slopes to the lake during austral summer. These running waters which are kept liquid by the heating up of the dark soil are penetrating the lower ice cover and thus softening up the lakeside part if the ice core. It is inoculated by nutrients, active microbes and diatoms of terrestrial origin. A distinct gradient concerning bacterial numbers, biomass and production which is 10 fold at the ice-water interface compared to the exposed part is observable. Temperature sensitivity of the embedded microbes reflect the gradient as well: Bacteria isolated from the upper part showed growth optima at 10°C, the lower part at 25°C, phylogenetic properties done by 16s rDNA reveal distinct communities depending on their vertical position, some clones are similar to those retrieved in Lake Vostok ice cores. These results offer the conclusion that even in this harsh environment like the Antarctic continent a dynamic system like microbial ice aggregates can be sustained as long as the supply of liquid water which is essential for an active bacterial metabolism is provided at least for a small time frame.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 November 2004
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 5555, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology VIII, (1 November 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.564554
Show Author Affiliations
Birgit I. Sattler, Univ. Innsbruck (Austria)
Sebastian Waldhuber, Univ. Innsbruck (Austria)
Helgard Fischer, Univ. of Konstanz (Germany)
Hans Semmler, Univ. Graz (Austria)
Paul P. Sipiera, William Rainey Harper College (United States)
Roland Psenner, Univ. Innsbruck (Austria)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5555:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology VIII
Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Alexei Y. Rozanov, Editor(s)

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