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Keywords:

  • Mount Everest;
  • moraine lake;
  • glacial meltwater;
  • bacterial diversity and abundance

Abstract

The bacterial diversity and abundance in two moraine lakes and two glacial meltwaters (5140, 5152, 5800 and 6350 m above sea level, respectively) in the remote Mount Everest region were examined through 16S rRNA gene clone library and flow cytometry approaches. In total, 247 clones were screened by RFLP and 60 16S rRNA gene sequences were obtained, belonging to the following groups: Proteobacteria (8% alpha subdivision, 21% beta subdivision, and 1% gamma subdivision), Cytophaga–Flavobacteria–Bacteroides (CFB) (54%), Actinobacteria (4%), Planctomycetes (2%), Verrucomicrobia (2%), Fibrobacteres (1%) and Eukaryotic chroloplast (3%), respectively. The high dominance of CFB distinguished the Mount Everest waters from other mountain lakes. The highest bacterial abundance and diversity occurred in the open moraine lake at 5152 m, and the lowest in the glacial meltwater at 6350 m. Low temperature at high altitude is considered to be critical for component dominancy. At the same altitude, nutrient availability plays a role in regulating population structure. Our results also show that the bacteria in Mount Everest may be derived from different sources.