Atmospheric Carbon Fixation; a Novel Biochemical Process Dominating Polar Desert Soils

The Ferrari lab recently discovered a biodiversity hotspot in the Windmill Islands, eastern Antarctica, where bacteria belonging to two novel phyla – WPS-2 and AD3 – dominated the site. We used shotgun sequencing to recover genomes from soils from this site and found that the majority of the community present are potentially fixing carbon through the consumption of molecular hydrogen and carbon monoxide gas.

 

The aim of this project is to validate atmospheric carbon fixation as a novel primary production strategy in nutrient-starved polar desert soils. Methods to be applied include novel culturing, DNA-SIP/FISH, next generation sequencing, gas chromatography, and data mining to isolate the first trace gas fixer from this environment for characterisation
Robinson Ridge, Antarctica; a nutrient-limited desert that hosts a unique
microbial community that uses trace gases to survive

 

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