Monitoring and identification of airborne fungi at historic locations on Ross Island, Antarctica

Air sampling in the ‘Heroic Era’ historic huts on Ross Island, Antarctica confirmed fungal presence, viability and winter survival. Cultivation and consensus sequence-based identification of Cladosporium cladosporioides, Pseudeurotium desertorum, Geomyces sp. and Antarctomyces psychrotrophicus demonstrated that they dominated the air environment within the huts. Cadophora sp. and Thebolus sp. were also isolated from the air and identified by morphological characteristics. Viable fungal colony forming units generally dropped in winter 2007 samplings from levels recorded in summer 2006 but were still substantial and greater than observed in summer 2008 and summer 2009 sampling at some locations. Comparing interior to exterior sampling, at the Hut Point and Cape Evans sites, there were more fungi recovered from the air in the interiors but at Cape Royds location, more fungi were recovered from the outside environment, possibly due to the impact of large amounts of organic material from the nearby Adélie penguin rookery. This research reveals airborne fungal biodiversity in summer and winter and demonstrates spores are widespread particularly in the interiors of the huts. Completed conservation efforts appear to have reduced fungal blooms and spores, which should reduce future adverse impacts to wood, textiles, paper and other artefacts so that this important polar heritage can be preserved.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Duncan, S. M., Farrell, R. L., Jordan, N., Jurgens, J. A. & Blanchette, R. A. (2010). Monitoring and identification of airborne fungi at historic locations on Ross Island, Antarctica. Polar Science, 4(2), 275-283