Not poles apart: Antarctic soil fungal communities show similarities to those of the distant Arctic
Antarctica's extreme environment and geographical isolation offers a useful platform for testing the relative roles of environmental selection and dispersal barriers influencing fungal communities. The former process should lead to convergence in community composition with other cold environments, such as those in the Arctic. Alternatively, dispersal limitations should minimise similarity between Antarctica and distant northern landmasses. Using high-throughput sequencing, we show that Antarctica shares significantly more fungi with the Arctic, and more fungi display a bipolar distribution, than would be expected in the absence of environmental filtering. In contrast to temperate and tropical regions, there is relatively little endemism, and a strongly bimodal distribution of range sizes. Increasing southerly latitude is associated with lower endemism and communities increasingly dominated by fungi with widespread ranges. These results suggest that micro-organisms with well-developed dispersal capabilities can inhabit opposite poles of the Earth, and dominate extreme environments over specialised local species
Authors: Cox, Filipa, Newsham, Kevin K., Bol, Roland, Dungait, Jennifer A.J., Robinson, Clare H.