In the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, microorganisms colonize the pore spaces of exposed rocks and are thereby protected from the desiccating environmental conditions on the surface. These cryptoendolithic communities have received attention in microscopy and culture-based studies but have not been examined by molecular approaches. We surveyed the microbial biodiversity of selected cryptoendolithic communities by analyzing clone libraries of rRNA genes amplified from environmental DNA. Over 1,100 individual clones from two types of cryptoendolithic communities, cyanobacterium dominated and lichen dominated, were analyzed. Clones fell into 51 relatedness groups (phylotypes) with ≥98% rRNA sequence identity (46 bacterial and 5 eucaryal). No representatives of Archaea were detected. No phylotypes were shared between the two classes of endolithic communities studied. Clone libraries based on both types of communities were dominated by a relatively small number of phylotypes that, because of their relative abundance, presumably represent the main primary producers in these communities. In the lichen-dominated community, three rRNA sequences, from a fungus, a green alga, and a chloroplast, of the types known to be associated with lichens, accounted for over 70% of the clones. This high abundance confirms the dominance of lichens in this community. In contrast, analysis of the supposedly cyanobacterium-dominated community indicated, in addition to cyanobacteria, at least two unsuspected organisms that, because of their abundance, may play important roles in the community. These included a member of the α subdivision of the Proteobacteria that potentially is capable of aerobic anoxygenic photosynthesis and a distant relative of Deinococcus that defines, along with other Deinococcus-related sequences from Antarctica, a new clade within the Thermus-Deinococcus bacterial phylogenetic division.
The isolation of viable extremely halophilic archaea from 250-million-year-old rock salt suggests the possibility of their long-term survival under desiccation. Since halite has been found on Mars and in meteorites, haloarchaeal survival of martian surface conditions is being explored. Halococcus dombrowskii H4 DSM 14522T was exposed to UV doses over a wavelength range of 200–400 nm to simulate martian UV flux. Cells embedded in a thin layer of laboratory-grown halite were found to accumulate preferentially within fluid inclusions. Survival was assessed by staining with the LIVE/DEAD kit dyes, determining colony-forming units, and using growth tests. Halite-embedded cells showed no loss of viability after exposure to about 21 kJ/m2, and they resumed growth in liquid medium with lag phases of 12 days or more after exposure up to 148 kJ/m2. The estimated D37 (dose of 37 % survival) for Hcc. dombrowskii was ≥ 400 kJ/m2. However, exposure of cells to UV flux while in liquid culture reduced D37 by 2 orders of magnitude (to about 1 kJ/m2); similar results were obtained with Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1 and Haloarcula japonica. The absorption of incoming light of shorter wavelength by color centers resulting from defects in the halite crystal structure likely contributed to these results. Under natural conditions, haloarchaeal cells become embedded in salt upon evaporation; therefore, dispersal of potential microscopic life within small crystals, perhaps in dust, on the surface of Mars could resist damage by UV radiation.
Halococcus dombrowskii; Simulated martian UV radiation; LIVE/DEAD staining; Halite fluid inclusions; UV transmittance and reflectance; Desiccation
Extractable lipid phosphate was used to determine the biomass of the cryptoendolithic microbiota that colonizes sandstone rocks in the Ross Desert region of Antarctica. The mean amount of lipid phosphate was 0.053 micromole/cm2 (n = 9), which equals 2.54 g of C per m2 (range, 1.92 to 3.26 g of C per m2) of biomass in the biotic zone of these rocks. The turnover of phospholipids was comparable to that of temperate sediments and soils (t1/2, 6 to 9 days) at 0 degrees C and a light intensity of 305 micromoles of photons per m2 per s, indicating that this was a good method to measure viable biomass. The biomass was 0.3 to 9.6% of the total carbon content of the biotic zone and was about 2 orders of magnitude smaller than the epilithic lichen dry weight at a location some 7 degrees north in latitude. The cryptoendolithic microbiota had a uniform density throughout the biotic zone under the rock surface. The results indicate that the cryptoendolithic microbial biomass is small but viable in this unique, extreme ecosystem.
The main forms of terrestrial life in the cold, desolate Ross Desert of Antarctica are lichen-dominated or cyanobacterium-dominated cryptoendolithic (hidden in rock) microbial communities. Though microbial community biomass (as measured by extractable lipid phosphate) was well within the range of values determined for other microbial communities, community lipid carbon turnover times (calculated from community lipid biomass, rates of community photosynthetic carbon incorporation into lipids versus temperature, and the in situ temperature record) were among the longest on Earth (ca. 20,000 years). When the temperature is above freezing and moisture is present, moderate rates of photosynthesis can be measured. Lichen communities had a psychrophilic temperature response (maximal rate of 4.5 ng of C h-1 m-2 at 10°C) while cyanobacteria communities had maximal rates at 20 to 30°C (3 ng of C h-1 m-2). These extraordinarily slowly growing communities were not nutrient limited. No significant changes in photosynthetic metabolism were observed upon additions of 100 nM to 1 mM nitrate, ammonium, phosphate, and manganese. These simple, tenacious microbial communities demonstrate strategies of survival under conditions normally considered too extreme for life.
The Antarctic fungus Lecanicillium muscarium CCFEE 5003 is one of the most powerful chitinolytic organisms. It can produce high level of chitinolytic enzymes in a wide range of temperatures (5-30°C). Chitinolytic enzymes have lot of applications but their industrial production is still rather limited and no cold-active enzymes are produced. In view of massive production of L. muscarium chitinolytic enzymes, its cultivation in bioreactors is mandatory. Microbial cultivation and/or their metabolite production in bioreactors are sometime not possible and must be verified and optimized for possible exploitation. Agitation and aeration are the most important parameters in order to allow process up-scaling to the industrial level.
In this study, submerged cultures of L. muscarium CCFEE 5003 were carried out in a 2-L bench-top CSTR bioreactor in order to optimise the production of chitinolytic enzymes. The effect of stirrer speed (range 200-500 rpm) and aeration rate (range 0.5-1.5 vvm) combination was studied, by Response Surface Methodology (RSM), in a medium containing 1.0% yeast nitrogen base and 1% colloidal chitin. Optimization was carried out, within a "quadratic D-optimal" model, using quantitative and quantitative-multilevel factors for aeration and agitation, respectively. The model showed very good correlation parameters (R2, 0.931; Q2, 0.869) and the maximum of activity (373.0 U/L) was predicted at ca. 327 rpm and 1.1 vvm. However, the experimental data showed that highest activity (383.7 ± 7.8 U/L) was recorded at 1 vvm and 300 rpm. Evident shear effect caused by stirrer speed and, partially, by high aeration rates were observed. Under optimized conditions in bioreactor the fungus was able to produce a higher number of chitinolytic enzymes than those released in shaken flasks. In addition, production was 23% higher.
This work demonstrated the attitude of L. muscarium CCFEE 5003 to grow in bench-top bioreactor; outlined the strong influence of aeration and agitation on its growth and enzyme production and identified the optimal conditions for possible production at the industrial level.
Chitinolytic enzymes production; Lecanicillium muscarium; Response Surface Methodology; Agitation and aeration
Most planetary protection research has concentrated on characterizing viable bioloads on spacecraft surfaces, developing techniques for bioload reduction prior to launch, and studying the effects of simulated martian environments on microbial survival. Little research has examined the persistence of biogenic signature molecules on spacecraft materials under simulated martian surface conditions. This study examined how endogenous adenosine-5′-triphosphate (ATP) would persist on aluminum coupons under simulated martian conditions of 7.1 mbar, full-spectrum simulated martian radiation calibrated to 4 W m−2 of UV-C (200 to 280 nm), −10°C, and a Mars gas mix of CO2 (95.54%), N2 (2.7%), Ar (1.6%), O2 (0.13%), and H2O (0.03%). Cell or spore viabilities of Acinetobacter radioresistens, Bacillus pumilus, and B. subtilis were measured in minutes to hours, while high levels of endogenous ATP were recovered after exposures of up to 21 days. The dominant factor responsible for temporal reductions in viability and loss of ATP was the simulated Mars surface radiation; low pressure, low temperature, and the Mars gas composition exhibited only slight effects. The normal burst of endogenous ATP detected during spore germination in B. pumilus and B. subtilis was reduced by 1 or 2 orders of magnitude following, respectively, 8- or 30-min exposures to simulated martian conditions. The results support the conclusion that endogenous ATP will persist for time periods that are likely to extend beyond the nominal lengths of most surface missions on Mars, and planetary protection protocols prior to launch may require additional rigor to further reduce the presence and abundance of biosignature molecules on spacecraft surfaces.
Spore-forming bacteria are of particular concern in the context of planetary protection because their tough endospores may withstand certain sterilization procedures as well as the harsh environments of outer space or planetary surfaces. To test their hardiness on a hypothetical mission to Mars, spores of Bacillus subtilis 168 and Bacillus pumilus SAFR-032 were exposed for 1.5 years to selected parameters of space in the experiment PROTECT during the EXPOSE-E mission on board the International Space Station. Mounted as dry layers on spacecraft-qualified aluminum coupons, the “trip to Mars” spores experienced space vacuum, cosmic and extraterrestrial solar radiation, and temperature fluctuations, whereas the “stay on Mars” spores were subjected to a simulated martian environment that included atmospheric pressure and composition, and UV and cosmic radiation. The survival of spores from both assays was determined after retrieval. It was clearly shown that solar extraterrestrial UV radiation (λ≥110 nm) as well as the martian UV spectrum (λ≥200 nm) was the most deleterious factor applied; in some samples only a few survivors were recovered from spores exposed in monolayers. Spores in multilayers survived better by several orders of magnitude. All other environmental parameters encountered by the “trip to Mars” or “stay on Mars” spores did little harm to the spores, which showed about 50% survival or more. The data demonstrate the high chance of survival of spores on a Mars mission, if protected against solar irradiation. These results will have implications for planetary protection considerations. Key Words: Planetary protection—Bacterial spores—Space experiment—Simulated Mars mission. Astrobiology 12, 445–456.
Mitogenomics data, i.e. complete mitochondrial genome sequences, are popular molecular markers used for phylogenetic, phylogeographic and ecological studies in different animal lineages. Their comparative analysis has been used to shed light on the evolutionary history of given taxa and on the molecular processes that regulate the evolution of the mitochondrial genome. A considerable literature is available in the fields of invertebrate biochemical and ecophysiological adaptation to extreme environmental conditions, exemplified by those of the Antarctic. Nevertheless, limited molecular data are available from terrestrial Antarctic species, and this study represents the first attempt towards the description of a mitochondrial genome from one of the most widespread and common collembolan species of Antarctica.
In this study we describe the mitochondrial genome of the Antarctic collembolan Cryptopygus antarcticus Willem, 1901. The genome contains the standard set of 37 genes usually present in animal mtDNAs and a large non-coding fragment putatively corresponding to the region (A+T-rich) responsible for the control of replication and transcription. All genes are arranged in the gene order typical of Pancrustacea. Three additional short non-coding regions are present at gene junctions. Two of these are located in positions of abrupt shift of the coding polarity of genes oriented on opposite strands suggesting a role in the attenuation of the polycistronic mRNA transcription(s). In addition, remnants of an additional copy of trnL(uag) are present between trnS(uga) and nad1. Nucleotide composition is biased towards a high A% and T% (A+T = 70.9%), as typically found in hexapod mtDNAs. There is also a significant strand asymmetry, with the J-strand being more abundant in A and C. Within the A+T-rich region, some short sequence fragments appear to be similar (in position and primary sequence) to those involved in the origin of the N-strand replication of the Drosophila mtDNA.
The mitochondrial genome of C. antarcticus shares several features with other pancrustacean genomes, although the presence of unusual non-coding regions is also suggestive of molecular rearrangements that probably occurred before the differentiation of major collembolan families. Closer examination of gene boundaries also confirms previous observations on the presence of unusual start and stop codons, and suggests a role for tRNA secondary structures as potential cleavage signals involved in the maturation of the primary transcript. Sequences potentially involved in the regulation of replication/transcription are present both in the A+T-rich region and in other areas of the genome. Their position is similar to that observed in a limited number of insect species, suggesting unique replication/transcription mechanisms for basal and derived hexapod lineages. This initial description and characterization of the mitochondrial genome of C. antarcticus will constitute the essential foundation prerequisite for investigations of the evolutionary history of one of the most speciose collembolan genera present in Antarctica and other localities of the Southern Hemisphere.
The Antarctic notothenioid Trematomus bernacchii (rock cod) lives at a constant mean temperature of −1.9 °C. Gastric digestion under these conditions relies on the proteolytic activity of aspartic proteases such as pepsin. To understand the molecular mechanisms of Antarctic fish pepsins, T. bernacchii pepsins A1 and A2 were cloned, overexpressed in E. coli, purified and characterized with a number of biochemical and biophysical methods. The properties of these two Antarctic isoenzymes were compared to porcine pepsin and found to be unique in a number of ways. Fish pepsins were found to be more temperature sensitive, generally less active at lower pH and more sensitive to inhibition by pepstatin than the mesophilic counterpart. The specificity of Antarctic fish pepsins was similar but not identical to pig pepsin, likely owing to changes in the sequence of fish enzymes near the active site. Gene duplication of Antarctic rock cod pepsins is the likely mechanism for adaptation to the harsh temperature environment in which these enzymes must function.
Rock cod; aspartic proteases; specificity; cold-adapted protein
We describe the application of molecular biological techniques to estimate eukaryotic diversity (primarily fungi, algae, and protists) in Antarctic soils across a latitudinal and environmental gradient between approximately 60 and 87°S. The data were used to (i) test the hypothesis that diversity would decrease with increasing southerly latitude and environmental severity, as is generally claimed for “higher” faunal and plant groups, and (ii) investigate the level of endemicity displayed in different taxonomic groups. Only limited support was obtained for a systematic decrease in diversity with latitude, and then only at the level of a gross comparison between maritime (Antarctic Peninsula/Scotia Arc) and continental Antarctic sites. While the most southerly continental Antarctic site was three to four times less diverse than all maritime sites, there was no evidence for a trend of decreasing diversity across the entire range of the maritime Antarctic (60 to 72°S). Rather, we found the reverse pattern, with highest diversity at sites on Alexander Island (ca. 72°S), at the southern limit of the maritime Antarctic. The very limited overlap found between the eukaryotic biota of the different study sites, combined with their generally low relatedness to existing sequence databases, indicates a high level of Antarctic site isolation and possibly endemicity, a pattern not consistent with similar studies on other continents.
In Antarctica there exists a cryptoendolithic microbiota which survives extremely low temperatures. Fatty acid analysis of the membrane phospholipids of this microbial community showed a predominance of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Artificial membranes made from the purified community phospholipids remained fluid to below −20°C and had unusual hydration properties.
The carbon metabolism of the cryptoendolithic microbiota of sandstones from the Ross Desert of Antarctica was studied in situ and in vitro. Organic and inorganic carbon compounds were metabolized by the microbiota, with bicarbonate incorporation into community lipids occurring primarily in the light. Light intensity affected the photometabolism of carbon with a photosynthesis-intensity response optimum at about 200 to 300 micromoles of photons per m2 per s. Photosynthesis was also affected by temperature, with a minimum activity at -5 degrees C, an optimum activity at 15 degrees C, and complete inhibition at 35 degrees C, indicating that the cryptoendolithic community was psychrophilic. The primary source of CO2 for photosynthesis in situ was the atmosphere. CO2 may also be photometabolized by using the carbon produced from respiration within the endolithic community. Photosynthesis occurred maximally when the microbiota was wet with liquid water and to a lesser extent in a humid atmosphere. This simple microbial community, therefore, exists under extremes of water, light, and temperature stress which affect and control its metabolism.
This paper describes the methodology applied to generate simulated multipolarized L-band SAR images of the MAPSAR (Multi-Application Purpose SAR) satellite from the airborne SAR R99B sensor (SIVAM System). MAPSAR is a feasibility study conducted by INPE (National Institute for Space Research) and DLR (German Aerospace Center) targeting a satellite L-band SAR innovative mission for assessment, management and monitoring of natural resources. Examples of simulated products and their applications are briefly discussed.
SAR; MAPSAR simulation; SIVAM system; L-band radar; Amazon Region
SUMMARY OF RECENT ADVANCES
Life on Earth has always existed in the flux of ionizing radiation. However, fungi seem to interact with the ionizing radiation differently from other Earth’s inhabitants. Recent data show that melanized fungal species like those from Chernobyl’s reactor respond to ionizing radiation with enhanced growth. Fungi colonize space stations and adapt morphologically to extreme conditions. Radiation exposure causes upregulation of many key genes, and an inducible microhomology-mediated recombination pathway could be a potential mechanism of adaptive evolution in eukaryotes. The discovery of melanized organisms in high radiation environments, the space stations, Antarctic mountains, and in the reactor cooling water combined with phenomenon of ‘radiotropism’ raises the tantalizing possibility that melanins have functions analogous to other energy harvesting pigments such as chlorophylls.
The dry-heat resistance characteristics of spores of psychrophilic organisms isolated from soil samples from the Viking spacecraft assembly areas at Cape Kennedy Space Flight Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla., were studied. Spore suspensions were produced, and dry-heat D values were determined for the microorganisms that demonstrated growth or survival under a simulated Martian environment. The dry-heat tests were carried out by using the planchet-boat-hot plate system at 110 and 125 degrees C with an ambient relative humidity of 50% at 22 degrees C. The spores evaluated had a relatively low resistance to dry heat. D(110 degrees C) values ranged from 7.5 to 122 min, whereas the D(123 degrees C) values ranged from less than 1.0 to 9.8 min.
Soil samples from Cape Canaveral were subjected to a simulated Martian environment and assayed periodically over 45 days to determine the effect of various environmental parameters on bacterial populations. The simulated environment was based on the most recent available data, prior to the Viking spacecraft, describing Martian conditions and consisted of a pressure of 7 millibars, an atmosphere of 99.9% CO2 and 0.1% O2, a freeze-thaw cycle of -65 degrees C for 16 h and 24 degrees C for 8 h, and variable moisture and nutrients. Reduced pressure had a significant effect, reducing growth under these conditions. Slight variations in gaseous composition of the simulated atmosphere had negligible effect on growth. The freeze-thaw cycle did not inhibit growth but did result in a slower rate of decline after growth had occurred. Dry samples exhibited no change during the 45-day experiment, indicating that the simulated Martian environment was not toxic to bacterial populations. Psychotrophic organisms responded more favorably to this environment than mesophiles, although both types exhibited increases of approximately 3 logs in 7 to 14 days when moisture and nutrients were available.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s ‘high-quality protein crystal growth’ project is introduced. If crystallization conditions were carefully fixed in ground-based experiments, high-quality protein crystals grew in microgravity in many experiments on the International Space Station, especially when a highly homogeneous protein sample and a viscous crystallization solution were employed.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) started a high-quality protein crystal growth project, now called JAXA PCG, on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2002. Using the counter-diffusion technique, 14 sessions of experiments have been performed as of 2012 with 580 proteins crystallized in total. Over the course of these experiments, a user-friendly interface framework for high accessibility has been constructed and crystallization techniques improved; devices to maximize the use of the microgravity environment have been designed, resulting in some high-resolution crystal growth. If crystallization conditions were carefully fixed in ground-based experiments, high-quality protein crystals grew in microgravity in many experiments on the ISS, especially when a highly homogeneous protein sample and a viscous crystallization solution were employed. In this article, the current status of JAXA PCG is discussed, and a rational approach to high-quality protein crystal growth in microgravity based on numerical analyses is explained.
microgravity; protein crystal; JAXA; counter-diffusion; Japan Experiment Module ‘Kibo’; protein depletion zone; impurity depletion zone
Spacecraft-associated spores and four non-spore-forming bacterial isolates were prepared in Atacama Desert soil suspensions and tested both in solution and in a desiccated state to elucidate the shadowing effect of soil particulates on bacterial survival under simulated Martian atmospheric and UV irradiation conditions. All non-spore-forming cells that were prepared in nutrient-depleted, 0.2-μm-filtered desert soil (DSE) microcosms and desiccated for 75 days on aluminum died, whereas cells prepared similarly in 60-μm-filtered desert soil (DS) microcosms survived such conditions. Among the bacterial cells tested, Microbacterium schleiferi and Arthrobacter sp. exhibited elevated resistance to 254-nm UV irradiation (low-pressure Hg lamp), and their survival indices were comparable to those of DS- and DSE-associated Bacillus pumilus spores. Desiccated DSE-associated spores survived exposure to full Martian UV irradiation (200 to 400 nm) for 5 min and were only slightly affected by Martian atmospheric conditions in the absence of UV irradiation. Although prolonged UV irradiation (5 min to 12 h) killed substantial portions of the spores in DSE microcosms (∼5- to 6-log reduction with Martian UV irradiation), dramatic survival of spores was apparent in DS-spore microcosms. The survival of soil-associated wild-type spores under Martian conditions could have repercussions for forward contamination of extraterrestrial environments, especially Mars.
We tested the effects of solar radiation, and UV-B in particular, on the growth of Antarctic terrestrial fungi. The growth responses to solar radiation of five fungi, Geomyces pannorum, Phoma herbarum, Pythium sp., Verticillium sp., and Mortierella parvispora, each isolated from Antarctic terrestrial habitats, were examined on an agar medium in the natural Antarctic environment. A 3-h exposure to solar radiation of >287 nm reduced the hyphal extension rates of all species relative to controls kept in the dark. Pythium sp. cultures exposed to solar radiation for 1.5 h on five consecutive days were most sensitive to radiation of >287 nm, but radiation of >313 nm also inhibited growth to a lesser extent. Radiation of >400 nm had no effect on hyphal growth relative to controls kept in the dark. Short-wave solar UV-B radiation of between 287 and 305 nm inhibited the growth of Pythium sp. hyphae on and below the surface of the agar medium after 24 h, but radiation of ≥345 nm only reduced the growth of surface hyphae. Similar detrimental effects of UV-B on surface and, to a lesser extent, submerged hyphae of all five fungi were shown in the laboratory by using artificial UV-B from fluorescent lamps. A comparison of growth responses to solar radiation and temperature showed that the species that were most resistant to UV radiation grew fastest at higher temperatures. These data suggest that solar UV-B reduces the growth of fungi on the soil surface in the Antarctic terrestrial environment.
The first International Caenorhabditis elegans Experiment (ICE-First) was carried out using a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from April 19-30, 2004. This experiment was a part of the program of the DELTA (Dutch Expedition for Life science Technology and Atmospheric research) mission, and the space agencies that participate in the International Space Station (ISS) program formed international research teams. A Japanese research team that conducted by Japan aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) investigated the following aspects of the organism: (1) whether meiotic chromosomal dynamics and apoptosis in the germ cells were normal under microgravity conditions, (2) the effect of the space flight on muscle cell development, and (3) the effect of the space flight on protein aggregation. In this article, we summarize the results of these biochemical and molecular biological analyses.
Fungal strains isolated from rocks and lichens collected in the Antarctic
ice-free area of the Victoria Land, one of the coldest and driest habitats on
earth, were found in two phylogenetically isolated positions within the
subclass Dothideomycetidae. They are here reported as new genera and
species, Recurvomyces mirabilis gen. nov., sp.
nov. and Elasticomyces elasticus gen. nov., sp.
nov. The nearest neighbours within the clades were other rock-inhabiting
fungi from dry environments, either cold or hot. Plant-associated
Mycosphaerella-like species, known as invaders of leathery leaves in
semi-arid climates, are also phylogenetically related with the new taxa. The
clusters are also related to the halophilic species Hortaea
werneckii, as well as to acidophilic fungi. One of the latter, able to
grow at pH 0, is Scytalidium acidophilum, which is ascribed here to
the newly validated genus Acidomyces. The ecological implications of
this finding are discussed.
Acidophilic fungi; Antarctica; black fungi; extremotolerance; halophilic fungi; ITS; lichens; phylogeny; rock-inhabiting fungi; SSU; taxonomy
Survival of Bacillus subtilis var. globigii in a simulated Martian environment was demonstrated. Previous contact with the simulated Martian soil or atmosphere reduced germination or outgrowth of unheated spores, or both. Inoculation into simulated Martian soil and then flushing with a simulated Martian atmosphere were lethal to both vegetative cells and spores. After one diurnal temperature cycle (26 to -60 C), the majority of of cells present were spores. No further effect of the diurnal cycle on survival was noted in any of the experimental samples.
We tested the metabolic rate hypothesis (whereby rates of mtDNA evolution are postulated to be mediated primarily by mutagenic by-products of respiration) by examining whether mass-specific metabolic rate was correlated with root-to-tip distance on a set of mtDNA trees for the springtail Cryptopygus antarcticus travei from sub-Antarctic Marion Island.
Using Bayesian analyses and a novel application of the comparative phylogenetic method, we did not find significant evidence that contemporary metabolic rates directly correlate with mutation rate (i.e., root-to-tip distance) once the underlying phylogeny is taken into account. However, we did find significant evidence that metabolic rate is dependent on the underlying mtDNA tree, or in other words, lineages with related mtDNA also have similar metabolic rates.
We anticipate that future analyses which apply this methodology to datasets with longer sequences, more taxa, or greater variability will have more power to detect a significant direct correlation between metabolic rate and mutation rate. We conclude with suggestions for future analyses that would extend the preliminary approach applied here, in particular highlighting ways to tease apart oxidative stress effects from the effects of population size and/or selection coefficients operating on the molecular evolutionary rate.
We report the results from the first experimental study of the fate of whale and wood remains on the Antarctic seafloor. Using a baited free-vehicle lander design, we show that whale-falls in the Antarctic are heavily infested by at least two new species of bone-eating worm, Osedax antarcticus sp. nov. and Osedax deceptionensis sp. nov. In stark contrast, wood remains are remarkably well preserved with the absence of typical wood-eating fauna such as the xylophagainid bivalves. The combined whale-fall and wood-fall experiment provides support to the hypothesis that the Antarctic circumpolar current is a barrier to the larvae of deep-water species that are broadly distributed in other ocean basins. Since humans first started exploring the Antarctic, wood has been deposited on the seafloor in the form of shipwrecks and waste; our data suggest that this anthropogenic wood may be exceptionally well preserved. Alongside the new species descriptions, we conducted a comprehensive phylogenetic analyses of Osedax, suggesting the clade is most closely related to the frenulate tubeworms, not the vestimentiferans as previous reported.
whale-fall; wood-fall; Annelida; Polychaeta; Siboglinidae; Xylophaga
Melanised rock-inhabiting fungi are astonishingly resistant to
environmental stresses. Also known as micro-colonial fungi (MCF), they are
ubiquitous and even colonise bare rocks in deserts. To survive in nutrient
poor and extremely stressful conditions, MCF have reduced morphogenetic
complexity to a minimum, and rely on a broad spectrum of stress protection
mechanisms. Although visual signs of carotenoid presence are masked by heavily
melanised black cell-walls, we were able to isolate and characterise a variety
of carotenoids (ß-carotene, ζ-carotene, phytoene, torularhodin and
torulene) in the rock-inhabiting, relatively fast-growing strain A95. The
desiccation/rehydration stress response was used to measure the ability of A95
to adapt to slow or fast changes in external conditions. Revival of MCF after
prolonged desiccation and rehydration was documented by biochemical (analyses
of lipids and protective pigments), cultivation, and microscopic methods.
Survival of MCF is enhanced when desiccation is rapid and mycostasis is
instant rather than following prolonged periods of low metabolic activity.
Anhydrobiosis; carotenoids; lipids; mycostasis; protective pigments; stress responses