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Antarctic Terrestrial Microbiology
14; Pages: 181 - 215

Microbial Ecology of Geothermal Habitats in Antarctica

Craig W. Herbold, Ian R. McDonald, S. Craig Cary

Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand, 3240.


Geothermal features in Antarctica generate liquid water and establish physicochemical gradients that provide habitat for diverse microbes. Studies on the microbial ecology of these features using traditional techniques have shown that the high-altitude, continental volcanoes (Mt. Erebus, Mt. Melbourne and Mt. Rittmann) possess microbial communities that share key taxa and are unique from the communities found in the distant geothermal habitats at Deception Island. In recent years, the application of molecular work has revealed the presence of potentially endemic organisms that previously escaped detection. While still in its infancy, the application of molecular strategies promises to revolutionize our current understanding of this habitat.

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