Taxonomic and functional diversity of soil and hypolithic microbial communities in Miers Valley, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica

Sean T.S. Wei, Donnabella C. Lacap-Bugler*, Maggie C.Y. Lau, Tancredi Caruso, Subramanya Rao, Asunción de los Rios, Stephen K. Archer, Man Ying CHIU, Colleen Higgins, Joy D. Van Nostrand, Jizhong Zhou, David W. Hopkins, Stephen B. Pointing

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


The McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica are an extreme polar desert. Mineral soils support subsurface microbial communities and translucent rocks support development of hypolithic communities on ventral surfaces in soil contact. Despite significant research attention, relatively little is known about taxonomic and functional diversity or their inter-relationships. Here we report a combined diversity and functional interrogation for soil and hypoliths of the Miers Valley in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. The study employed 16S rRNA fingerprinting and high throughput sequencing combined with the GeoChip functional microarray. The soil community was revealed as a highly diverse reservoir of bacterial diversity dominated by actinobacteria. Hypolithic communities were less diverse and dominated by cyanobacteria. Major differences in putative functionality were that soil communities displayed greater diversity in stress tolerance and recalcitrant substrate utilization pathways, whilst hypolithic communities supported greater diversity of nutrient limitation adaptation pathways. A relatively high level of functional redundancy in both soil and hypoliths may indicate adaptation of these communities to fluctuating environmental conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1642
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberOCT
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Antarctica
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Dry Valleys
  • Geochip
  • Hypolith
  • Soil


Dive into the research topics of 'Taxonomic and functional diversity of soil and hypolithic microbial communities in Miers Valley, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this