Microbial life beneath a high Arctic glacier

  • Skidmore M
  • Foght J
  • Sharp M
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The debris-rich basal ice layers of a high Arctic glacier were shown to contain metabolically diverse microbes that could be cultured oligotrophically at low temperatures (0.3 to 4°C). These organisms included aerobic chemoheterotrophs and anaerobic nitrate reducers, sulfate reducers, and methanogens. Colonies purified from subglacial samples at 4°C appeared to be predominantly psychrophilic. Aerobic chemoheterotrophs were metabolically active in unfrozen basal sediments when they were cultured at 0.3°C in the dark (to simulate near-ly in situ conditions), producing 14 CO 2 from radiolabeled sodium acetate with minimal organic amendment (>38 ␮M C). In contrast, no activity was observed when samples were cultured at subfreezing temperatures (

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  • M. L. Skidmore

  • J. M. Foght

  • M. J. Sharp

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