Cyanobacteria in cold ecosystems

  • Zakhia F
  • Jungblut A
  • Taton A
 et al. 
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Abstract

Perennially cold environments in which temperatures remain below 5C are common throughout the biosphere (Margesin and Häggblom 2007). In these habitats, the persistent cold temperatures are often accompanied by freezethaw cycles, extreme fluctuations in irradiance (including ultraviolet radiation), and large variations in nutrient supply and salinity. As a result of these constraints, polar and alpine environments contain a reduced biodiversity, with prokaryotes contributing a major component of the total ecosystem biomass as well as species richness. Cyanobacteria are of particular interest because they often represent the predominant phototrophs in such ecosystems. Current research shows that a diverse range of cyanobacteria can be found in polar and alpine habitats, and that they show a remarkable ability to tolerate the abiotic stresses that prevail in these cold environments. Their presence was already observed during the early explorations of the polar regions at the end of the nineteenth century (Vincent 2007).

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Authors

  • Frédéric Zakhia

  • Anne Dorothee Jungblut

  • Warwick F. Vincent

  • Annick Wilmotte

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