Where in the World? Antarctica
nzTABS expedition to Antarctica
Dr. Charles Lee, a FRST Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Waikato,was part of the nzTABS expedition to Antarctica. The 2 main goals of this expedition were to study the microbial life in extreme cold and dry environments, and to improve their understanding of the rock bottom of the food chain: Microbes.
The McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica is one of the harshest habitats due to its extreme aridness and frigid nature, and has been long used as a Mars analog by NASA. Despite so, biology of the Dry Valleys is surprisingly diverse and robust, including nematodes, mites, mosses, lichens, and most important of all, bacteria in the forms of cyanobacterial mat and soil bacteria. “As part of the International Polar Year aim to better understand and manage Antarctic terrestrial habitats, we're currently undertaking an interdisciplinary and international effort to conduct a survey of the Minor Valleys (i.e., Miers, Marshall, and Garwood valleys)” said Dr. Lee.
In order to answer questions such as “how can microbes make organic carbon by using inorganic components?”, and “which microbes are the main players in utilizing chemical energy and nutrients from rocks and soils that are very poor in organic matter?” the team relies on the efficiency and accuracy of the MO BIO kits to isolate DNA and RNA from the microbial soil community.
“MO BIO's PowerSoil® DNA Isolation Kit and theRNA PowerSoil® Total RNA Isolation Kit allow us to obtain high quality nucleic acid samples from the environment, thereby enabling us to perform molecular genetic studies on samples extremely low in biomass. The comprehensive kits with relatively easy protocol allow us to perform nucleic acid extractions even in the field, allowing us to obtain snapshots of the organisms in situ with great confidence” stated Dr. Lee.
Variety of Microhabitats in Mc Murdo Dry Valleys
Working in the challenging yet pristine environment of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, Professor Craig Cary
and his team examine a wide variety of microhabitats found in the unique geological area.
Mummified seals dating back several hundred years provide unexpected nutrient inputs into a barren environment and harbor a rich collection of microorganisms, and hypolithic communities found under light-penetrating quartz are analogous to tiny oases in the arid landscape.
Furthermore, the use of MO BIO RNA PowerSoil® Total RNA Isolation Kit
enables the scientists to examine active microbial communities in various soil habitats without having to deal with legacy DNA preserved by the cold and arid conditions.
Eventually, Dr. Cary and his team hope to uncover the main drivers of microbial biodiversity in Dry Valley soils to help better understand the unique ecosystem.
Prof. Cary's work in the Dry Valleys is supported by Antarctica New Zealand and the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.
Biogeographic survey of the overall 16S diversity of bacteria in the streams in McMurdo Dry Valleys
"I'm studying the bacteria that live in the streams in the Dry Valleys, so the biomass is low but the kits are working great", she notes.
"I am using MO BIO's soil kits to extract bacterial DNA from stream sediments. We are conducting a biogeographic survey of the overall 16S diversity of bacteria in the streams, specifically looking for differences in species abundance and what environmental factors, such as stream flow, water chemistry, and temperature may affect community structure". Dr.Baeseman is planning to do a similar study looking at nirS and nirK genes to begin to understand the denitrification community present in these streams, and the factors that may influence their distribution and seasonal patterns.
Dr. Jenny Baeseman, Department of Geosciences, Princeton University and Amber Roche from the University of Colorado - Boulder
. Jenny's work is funded by an NSF Microbial Biology Postdoctoral Fellowship and the NSF Office of Polar Programs in conjunction with Bess Ward at Princeton. Amber is working with the McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER and is a student of Diane McKnight at UC-Boulder.
Yeast and other micro-eukaryotes in Antarctica's Victoria Land