Extremely cold microbial habitats on Earth (those below −30 °C) are rare and have not been surveyed for microbes as extensively as environments in the 0 to −20 °C range. Using cryoprotected growth media incubated at −5 °C, we enriched a cold-active Pseudomonas species from −50 °C ice collected from a utility tunnel for wastewater pipes under Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica. The isolate, strain UC-1, is related to other cold-active Pseudomonas species, most notably P. psychrophila, and grew at −5 °C to +34–37 °C; growth of UC-1 at +3 °C was significantly faster than at +34 °C. Strain UC-1 synthesized a surface exopolymer and high levels of unsaturated fatty acids under cold growth conditions. A 16S rRNA gene diversity screen of the ice sample that yielded strain UC-1 revealed over 1200 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) distributed across eight major classes of Bacteria. Many of the OTUs were Clostridia and Bacteriodia and some of these were probably of wastewater origin. However, a significant fraction of the OTUs were Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria of likely environmental origin. Our results shed light on the lower temperature limits to life and the possible existence of functional microbial communities in ultra-cold environments.
Extremophiles – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 5, 2017
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