Assessing aerial biodiversity over Keller Peninsula, King George Island, maritime Antarctica, using DNA metabarcoding

Antarctic ice-free areas are dominated by wind-dispersed organisms. However, which organisms arrive and circulate in Antarctica and how remain poorly understood. Due to their proximity to South America and less extreme conditions, the South Shetland Islands are likely to receive higher diaspore numbers. One possible consequence of climate change is that newcomers will be able to colonize ice-free areas, altering community compositions and impacting the native biota. We used DNA metabarcoding to identify non-fungal eukaryotic DNA present in the air that could potentially reach and circulate in Antarctica. Air was sampled near the Brazilian Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station on King George Island between December 2019 and January 2020. Sequences representing a total of 35 taxa from 10 phyla and 3 kingdoms were assigned: Chromista (Ciliophora, Cercozoa, Haptophyta and Ochrophyta), Plantae (Chlorophyta, Bryophyta and Magnoliophyta) and Animalia (Mollusca, Arthropoda and Chordata). The most diverse group were the plants (26 taxa), followed by Chromista (6 taxa). The most abundant sequences represented the green algae Chlamydomonas nivalis. The two angiosperm sequences represent exotic taxa; Folsomia is also exotic and was recorded only on Deception Island. Metabarcoding revealed the presence of previously undocumented airborne diversity, suggesting that the Antarctic airspora includes propagules of both local and distant origin.


Publication status:
Published Online
Authors: Câmara, Paulo E.A.S., Stech, Michael, Convey, Peter ORCIDORCID record for Peter Convey, Šantl-Temkiv, Tina, Pinto, Otavio Henrique Bezerra, Bones, Fábio Leal Viana, Lopes, Fabyano Alvares Cardoso, Rodrigues, Luiz Antônio da Costa, Carvalho-Silva, Micheline, Rosa, Luiz Henrique

On this site: Peter Convey
18 March, 2024
Antarctic Science
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