Microbial activity discovered in previously ice-entombed Arctic ecosystems


  • J. M. Welker,

    1. Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory , Colorado State University, Fort Collins, USA
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  • J. T. Fahnestock,

  • G. H. R. Henry,

  • K. W. 0'Dea,

  • R. E. Piper


One of the more intriguing discoveries in the biogeochemical sciences in recent years is the tremendous capacity of microbial populations to occupy and flourish in extreme habitats [Rothschild and Mancinelli 2001]. Microbial populations survive and multiply under a diversity of harsh conditions, including the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, and on the ocean floor around thermal vents. At the other extreme, active microbial communities occupy some of the coldest and driest habitats on Earth. For instance, a variety of bacterial and fungal species have been found in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, and there is evidence that microbes are also present beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet in Lake Vostok, a system that has not been exposed to the atmosphere for thousands of years.