Key microbial drivers in Antarctic aquatic environments

David Wilkins, Sheree Yau, Timothy J. Williams, Michelle A. Allen, Mark V. Brown, Matthew Z. Demaere, Federico M. Lauro, Ricardo Cavicchioli*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

75 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Antarctica is arguably the world's most important continent for influencing the Earth's climate and ocean ecosystem function. The unique physico-chemical properties of the Southern Ocean enable high levels of microbial primary production to occur. This not only forms the base of a significant fraction of the global oceanic food web, but leads to the sequestration of anthropogenic CO2 and its transport to marine sediments, thereby removing it from the atmosphere; the Southern Ocean accounts for ~ 30% of global ocean uptake of CO2 despite representing ~ 10% of the total surface area of the global ocean. The Antarctic continent itself harbors some liquid water, including a remarkably diverse range of surface and subglacial lakes. Being one of the remaining natural frontiers, Antarctica delivers the paradox of needing to be protected from disturbance while requiring scientific endeavor to discover what is indigenous and learn how best to protect it. Moreover, like many natural environments on Earth, in Antarctica, microorganisms dominate the genetic pool and biomass of the colonizable niches and play the key roles in maintaining proper ecosystem function. This review puts into perspective insight that has been and can be gained about Antarctica's aquatic microbiota using molecular biology, and in particular, metagenomic approaches. Antarctica is arguably the world's most important continent for influencing the Earth's climate and ocean ecosystem function, and this review puts into perspective the insight that has been and can be gained about Antarctica's aquatic microbiota by using molecular biology, and in particular, metagenomic approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-335
Number of pages33
JournalFEMS Microbiology Reviews
Volume37
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Antarctic lakes
  • Antarctic microorganisms
  • Metagenomics
  • Microbial diversity
  • Microbial loop
  • Southern Ocean

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  • Cite this

    Wilkins, D., Yau, S., Williams, T. J., Allen, M. A., Brown, M. V., Demaere, M. Z., ... Cavicchioli, R. (2013). Key microbial drivers in Antarctic aquatic environments. FEMS Microbiology Reviews, 37(3), 303-335. https://doi.org/10.1111/1574-6976.12007