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Diversity of phototrophic genes suggests multiple bacteria may be able to exploit sunlight in exposed soils from the Sør Rondane Mountains, East Antarctica
Tahon, G.; Tytgat, B.; Willems, A. (2016). Diversity of phototrophic genes suggests multiple bacteria may be able to exploit sunlight in exposed soils from the Sør Rondane Mountains, East Antarctica. Front. Microbiol. 7(2026): 17 pp. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2016.02026
In: Frontiers in Microbiology. Frontiers Media: Lausanne. ISSN 1664-302X; e-ISSN 1664-302X, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Princess Elisabeth Station, Sør Rondane Mountains, anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria, actinorhodopsin, light-harvesting, AAP

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Abstract
    Microbial life in exposed terrestrial surface layers in continental Antarctica is faced with extreme environmental conditions, including scarcity of organic matter. Bacteria in these exposed settings can therefore be expected to use alternative energy sources such as solar energy, abundant during the austral summer. Using Illumina MiSeq sequencing, we assessed the diversity and abundance of four conserved protein encoding genes involved in different key steps of light-harvesting pathways dependent on (bacterio)chlorophyll (pufM, bchL/chlL, and bchX genes) and rhodopsins (actinorhodopsin genes), in exposed soils from the Sør Rondane Mountains, East Antarctica. Analysis of pufM genes, encoding a subunit of the type 2 photochemical reaction center found in anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria, revealed a broad diversity, dominated by Roseobacter- and Loktanella-like sequences. The bchL and chlL, involved in (bacterio)chlorophyll synthesis, on the other hand, showed a high relative abundance of either cyanobacterial or green algal trebouxiophyceael chlL reads, depending on the sample, while most bchX sequences belonged mostly to previously unidentified phylotypes. Rhodopsin-containing phototrophic bacteria could not be detected in the samples. Our results, while suggesting that Cyanobacteria and green algae are the main phototrophic groups, show that light-harvesting bacteria are nevertheless very diverse in microbial communities in Antarctic soils.

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