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Antarctic Biology: Scale Matters

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Front. Microbiol. | doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.01392

Antarctic cryptoendolithic fungal communities are highly adapted and dominated by Lecanoromycetes and Dothideomycetes

Claudia Coleine1, 2,  Jason E. Stajich2*,  Laura Zucconi1,  Silvano Onofri1, Nuttapon Pombubpa2, Eleonora Egidi3,  Ashley E. Franks4, Pietro Buzzini5 and  Laura Selbmann1
  • 1Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Italy
  • 2Microbiology and Plant Pathology, University of California, Riverside, United States
  • 3Western Sydney University, Australia
  • 4Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Microbiology, La Trobe University, Australia
  • 5University of Perugia, Italy

Endolithic growth is one of the most spectacular microbial adaptations to extreme environmental constraints and the predominant life-form in the ice-free areas of Continental Antarctica. Although Antarctic endolithic microbial communities are known to host among the most resistant and extreme-adapted organisms, our knowledge on microbial diversity and composition in this peculiar niche is still limited. In this study, we investigated the diversity and structure of the fungal assemblage in the cryptoendolithic communities inhabiting sandstone using a meta-barcoding approach targeting the fungal Internal Transcribed Sequence region 1 (ITS1). Samples were collected from 14 sites in the Victoria Land, along an altitudinal gradient ranging from 1,000 to 3,300 m a.s.l. and from 29 to 96 km distance to coast. Our study revealed a clear dominance of a ‘core’ group of fungal taxa consistently present across all the samples, mainly composed of lichen-forming and Dothideomycetous fungi. Pareto-Lorenz curves indicated a very high degree of specialization (F0 approximately 95%), suggesting these communities are highly adapted but have limited ability to recover after perturbations. Overall, both fungal community biodiversity and composition did not show any correlation with the considered abiotic parameters, potentially due to strong fluctuations of environmental conditions at local scales.

Keywords: Antarctica, Endolithic communities, extremophiles, Fungi, ITS Meta-barcoding

Received: 14 Feb 2018; Accepted: 06 Jun 2018.

Edited by:

Bruno Danis, Free University of Brussels, Belgium

Reviewed by:

Charles K. Lee, University of Waikato, New Zealand
Xuesong Luo, Huazhong Agricultural University, China  

Copyright: © 2018 Coleine, Stajich, Zucconi, Onofri, Pombubpa, Egidi, Franks, Buzzini and Selbmann. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Jason E. Stajich, University of California, Riverside, Microbiology and Plant Pathology, 900 University Ave, Riverside, 92521, CA, United States,