Research Topic

Digitizing Frozen Earth - Revealing Microbial Diversity and Physiology in the Cryobiosphere through ´Omics´ Tools, Volume II

About this Research Topic

Terrestrial, marine and freshwater habitats of the three poles (Arctic, Antarctica and high-altitude regions) have striking similarities in their environmental properties. The harsh conditions permit the survival of a limited selection of (micro) organisms. Microbes ranging from Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukaryotes (i.e. algae, protists and fungi) are not only able to thrive in permanently cold environment but also are an important component of foodwebs in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Yet, their diversity and biogeographic patterns are still unresolved.

At the same time climatic driven environmental change and an increasing number of extreme events are being observed ranging from wild fires in the Arctic Circle, decrease of sea ice and collapse of ice shelves in the High-Arctic, calving of large icebergs in Antarctica to massive deglaciation in high altitude areas. This underscores the need for increased collaboration across disciplines and among countries in the polar and high-altitude regions. Different nations operate world-class infrastructures and research programmes in the Arctic and Antarctica, which provide a critical network and a valuable asset for the scientific polar community at large. Examples are the ‘Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate’ (MOSAiC), a year-round set of observations of multiple aspects of the Arctic Ocean, sea ice and atmosphere, with a related project on Arctic environments ‘Terrestrial Multidisciplinary distributed Observatories for the Study of Arctic Connections’ (T-MOSAiC), and EU Polar Cluster as well as the Long Term Ecological Research Networks in the Arctic and Antarctica.

It is therefore timely to relaunch a second volume of the Special Issue “Digitizing Frozen Earth“. The aim of this research topic is to go beyond descriptive and geographically limited studies and to encourage broad, comparative and process-oriented microbiological research towards large-scale biogeographic patterns, environment-diversity relationships, and ecological drivers of microbial diversity patterns. This may also include studies on natural and anthropogenic dispersal pathways, ecological niches as well as present and future climatic-driven habitat and diversity change.

This Research Topic encourages original research, reviews and opinions using high-throughput ‘omics’ techniques to resolve the large-scale diversity of microbes and viruses and their biogeographic patterns as well as multidisciplinary studies linking omics and biogeochemistry across the three poles. Works may involve and/or combine either genomics/metagenomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics, along with traditional methods discussing the advantages and inconveniences of different approaches. All marine, coastal, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems are included, such as melt water and permafrost thaw ponds, streams, perennially ice-covered lakes and supraglacial ecosystems as well as soils, glacier forefields and other terrestrial and aquatic biotopes.

Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.


Keywords: omics, extremophile, cryobiosphere, arctic, antarctic, supraglacial, ecosystem


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Terrestrial, marine and freshwater habitats of the three poles (Arctic, Antarctica and high-altitude regions) have striking similarities in their environmental properties. The harsh conditions permit the survival of a limited selection of (micro) organisms. Microbes ranging from Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukaryotes (i.e. algae, protists and fungi) are not only able to thrive in permanently cold environment but also are an important component of foodwebs in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Yet, their diversity and biogeographic patterns are still unresolved.

At the same time climatic driven environmental change and an increasing number of extreme events are being observed ranging from wild fires in the Arctic Circle, decrease of sea ice and collapse of ice shelves in the High-Arctic, calving of large icebergs in Antarctica to massive deglaciation in high altitude areas. This underscores the need for increased collaboration across disciplines and among countries in the polar and high-altitude regions. Different nations operate world-class infrastructures and research programmes in the Arctic and Antarctica, which provide a critical network and a valuable asset for the scientific polar community at large. Examples are the ‘Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate’ (MOSAiC), a year-round set of observations of multiple aspects of the Arctic Ocean, sea ice and atmosphere, with a related project on Arctic environments ‘Terrestrial Multidisciplinary distributed Observatories for the Study of Arctic Connections’ (T-MOSAiC), and EU Polar Cluster as well as the Long Term Ecological Research Networks in the Arctic and Antarctica.

It is therefore timely to relaunch a second volume of the Special Issue “Digitizing Frozen Earth“. The aim of this research topic is to go beyond descriptive and geographically limited studies and to encourage broad, comparative and process-oriented microbiological research towards large-scale biogeographic patterns, environment-diversity relationships, and ecological drivers of microbial diversity patterns. This may also include studies on natural and anthropogenic dispersal pathways, ecological niches as well as present and future climatic-driven habitat and diversity change.

This Research Topic encourages original research, reviews and opinions using high-throughput ‘omics’ techniques to resolve the large-scale diversity of microbes and viruses and their biogeographic patterns as well as multidisciplinary studies linking omics and biogeochemistry across the three poles. Works may involve and/or combine either genomics/metagenomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics, along with traditional methods discussing the advantages and inconveniences of different approaches. All marine, coastal, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems are included, such as melt water and permafrost thaw ponds, streams, perennially ice-covered lakes and supraglacial ecosystems as well as soils, glacier forefields and other terrestrial and aquatic biotopes.

Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.


Keywords: omics, extremophile, cryobiosphere, arctic, antarctic, supraglacial, ecosystem


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

16 April 2021 Abstract
14 August 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

16 April 2021 Abstract
14 August 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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