Cyanobacterial communities on Qiyi glacier, Qilian Shan, China

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Cyanobacterial communities on a glacier in the Qilian Shan, western China, were investigated using microscopic as well as 16S rRNA and internal transcribed spacer gene analyses. Microscopy revealed that there were abundant cyanobacteria on the entire glacier surface and their community consisted mainly of three morphological types. Low-cycle 16S rRNA gene sequences from six clone libraries were grouped into a total of eight cyanobacterial operational taxonomic units (OTUs), defined as 16S rRNA sequences with similarity of 99%. Although the cyanobacterial community based on morphological types displayed no significant differences among the study sites on the glacier, the community based on OTU groups varied among sites. This inconsistency may be due to simple morphology which might hide a large genetic variability. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the OTU groups included the orders Oscillatoriales, Chroococcales and unclassified, and the majority of OTUs were Oscillatoriales. From the source environments of the cyanobacterial 16S rRNA gene sequences of each OTU on the glacier estimated by BLAST search (>97% similarity), 39.9% were from soil, 38.2% from fresh water and 1.7% from snow and ice environments. Based on geographical records in the database, all cyanobacterial OTUs were matched to those recorded from the Arctic and Antarctica. The results suggest that the cyanobacterial communities on the glacier are common in cold regions of the world and are likely not to be specialized members of the snow and ice biota but also inhabitants of soil and freshwater environments.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2010

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  • 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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