Friday, October 9, 2009

Sunday Science Lecture: Sea Ice Microbes

Last Sunday's science lecture was presented by Andrew Martin of the University of Tasmania, Australia. His group is conducting an in situ study of microbes in sea ice. One of the focuses of the study involved drilling ice cores, then flipping them and replacing them so that the microbes at the bottom of the cores were subjected to surface conditions of temperature extremes, variable salinity, and sunlight. 36 ice core sections were monitored for a period of 18 days during Winfly. In spite of increased nourishment available in the form of light, subsurface microbes failed to thrive on the surface due to light shock and temperature sensivity.

The team identified about 20 taxa of algae and 25 phylotypes of bacteria in Antarctic sea ice. Cores are taken from relatively thin sections of ice (3-6' thick). Apparently most of the Winfly research took place at a location remote from McMurdo, as local cores contained relatively few microbial specimens.

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