Sea Ice bacteria

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Bacteria are common inhabitants of sea ice, and may contribute up to about 50% of the total biomass within this habitat. Sea ice bacteria occur in abundances of 10 thousand to 100 million cells/ml of ice and both free living and attached forms have been recorded. Recent advances in molecular tools allowed unprecedented insights into the diversity of the bacterial communities.

Within Arctic sea ice, both eubacteria and archaea have been described. Seasonal studies revealed succession patterns similar to observations for primary producers. Common groups within the ice include alphaproteobacteria, gammaproteobacteria and  crenarchaeota.

Physiological studies revealed that Arctic sea ice bacteria may be active even in the middle of winter in the upper layers of the ice at temperatures as low as -20° C.

Page Author: Rolf Gradinger
Created: Sept 10, 2010

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