The identification of environmental parameters which could influence soil bacterial community composition on the Antarctic Peninsula – a statistical approach
We adopted a statistical approach to identify environmental parameters which might be important in structuring the bacterial community in soils on the Antarctic Peninsula. An assessment of soil bacterial community composition at six environmentally distinct locations was made using terminal
restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) profiling. All locations are near to Rothera Point, on
Reptile Ridge and adjacent islands in Ryder Bay, off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, and were
selected to maximize the range of environmental variability easily accessible from Rothera Station. A range
of environmental variables was determined, and a Spearman rank correlation test was used to link the
community structure and environmental variables. We demonstrated that the taxonomic distribution of
the soil bacteria among the six study sites was relatively even, especially among the islands within Ryder
Bay, although each location possessed a distinct community structure. Significant differences in the
environmental conditions and soil chemical parameters allowed us to identify differences in location and
soil pH as the environmental variables that could most probably explain the soil bacterial community
patterns. This observation is consistent with an increasing number of studies from both Arctic and Antarctic
locations, and will contribute to the design of future parameter-specific studies to test the potential
functional significance of pH to the Antarctic soil bacterial community.
Authors: Chong, C.W., Pearce, D.A. ORCID record for D.A. Pearce, Convey, P. ORCID record for P. Convey, Tan, I.K.P.