• permafrost;
  • mycelial fungi;
  • biodiversity;
  • ITS2


Filamentous fungi in 36 samples of Antarctic permafrost sediments were studied. The samples collected during the Russian Antarctic expedition of 2007–2009 within the framework of the Antarctic Permafrost Age Project (ANTPAGE) were recovered from different depths in ice-free oases located along the perimeter of the continent. Fungal diversity was determined by conventional microbiological techniques combined with a culture-independent method based on the analysis of internal transcribed spacer (ITS2) sequences in total DNA of the samples. The study revealed a rather low fungal population density in permafrost, although the diversity found was appreciable, representing more than 26 genera. Comparison of the data obtained by different techniques showed that the culture-independent method enabled the detection of ascomycetous and basidiomycetous fungi not found by culturing. The molecular method failed to detect members of the genera Penicillium and Cladosporium that possess small-sized spores known to have a high resistance to environmental changes.