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Snow Surface Microbial Diversity at the Detection Limit within the Vicinity of the Concordia Station, Antarctica

  • The Concordia Research Station provides a unique location for preparatory activities for future human journey to Mars, to explore microbial diversity at subzero temperatures, and monitor the dissemination of human-associated microorganisms within the pristine surrounding environment. Amplicon sequencing was leveraged to investigate the microbial diversity of surface snow samples collected monthly over a two-year period, at three distances from the Station (10, 500, and 1000 m). Even when the extracted total DNA was below the detection limit, 16S rRNA gene sequencing was successfully performed on all samples, while 18S rRNA was amplified on 19 samples out of 51. No significant relationships were observed between microbial diversity and seasonality (summer or winter) or distance from the Concordia base. This suggested that if present, the anthropogenic impact should have been below the detectable limit. While harboring low microbial diversity, the surface snow samples were characterized by heterogeneous microbiomes. Ultimately, our study corroborated the use of DNA sequencing-based techniques for revealing microbial presence in remote and hostile environments, with implications for Planetary Protection during space missions and for life-detection in astrobiology relevant targets.

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Document Type:Article
Author:Alessandro Napoli, Claudia Coleine, Nikea J. Ulrich, Ralf Moeller, Daniela Billi, Laura Selbmann
Parent Title (English):Life
Article Number:113
Number of pages:14
Place of publication:Basel
Publishing Institution:Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg
Date of first publication:2022/12/30
Copyright:© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license
Funding:This research was supported by the National Antarctic Research Program (MIcrobial Diversity within the Vicinity of the Concordia Antarctic Station _MIDAS project grant PNRA 2016_00101 to DB). N.J.U. and R.M were supported by the DLR grant FuE-Projekt “ISS LIFE” (Programm RF-FuW, TP 475). The BacFinder project was supported by a Europlanet 2020 RI grant from the EuropeanUnion’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 654208.
Keyword:Antarctic ice sheet; extraterrestrial analogue; extremophiles; fungal and bacterial amplicon sequencing; habitability; life detection; planetary protection
Departments, institutes and facilities:Fachbereich Angewandte Naturwissenschaften
Institut für funktionale Gen-Analytik (IFGA)
Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC):5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
Entry in this database:2023/01/05
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International