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Culturable yeasts in meltwaters draining from two glaciers in the Italian Alps

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The meltwaters draining from two glaciers in the Italian Alps contain metabolically active yeasts isolable by culture-based laboratory procedures. The average number of culturable yeast cells in the meltwaters was 10–20 colony-forming units (CFU) L−1, whereas supraglacial stream waters originating from overlying glacier ice contained <1 CFU L−1. Yeast cell number increased as the suspended-sediment content of the water samples increased. Basidiomycetous yeasts represent >80% of isolated strains (Cryptococcus spp. and Rhodotorula spp. were 33.3% and 17.8% of total strains, respectively). Culturable yeasts were psychrotolerant, predominantly obligate aerobes and able to degrade organic macromolecules (e.g. starch, esters, lipids, proteins). To the authors' knowledge, this is the first study to report the presence of culturable yeasts in meltwaters originating from glaciers. On the basis of these results, it is reasonable to suppose that the viable yeasts observed in meltwaters derived predominantly from the subglacial zone and that they originated from the subglacial microbial community. Their metabolic abilities could contribute to the microbial activity occurring in subglacial environments.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2005-01-01

More about this publication?
  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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