Cowan, D.A., Khan, N., Pointing, S.B. & Cary, S.C. (2010). Diverse hypolithic refuge communities in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Antarctic Science, 22(6), 714-720.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5090
Hyper-arid deserts present extreme challenges to life. The environmental buffering provided by quartz and other translucent rocks allows hypolithic microbial communities to develop on sub-soil surfaces of such rocks. These refuge communities have been reported, for many locations worldwide, to be predominantly cyanobacterial in nature. Here we report the discovery in Antarctica’s hyper-arid McMurdo Dry Valleys of three clearly distinguishable types of hypolithic community. Based on gross colonization morphology and identification of dominant taxa, we have classified hypolithic communities as Type I (cyanobacterial dominated), Type II (fungal dominated) and Type III (moss dominated). This discovery supports a growing awareness of the high biocomplexity in Antarctic deserts, emphasizes the possible importance of cryptic microbial communities in nutrient cycling and provides evidence for possible successional community processes within a cold arid landscape.
Cambridge University Press
Copyright Antarctic Science 2010.