Ornithogenic soil is derived from the deposition of the fecal matter of various species of birds and is a major source of nutrient input in the Antarctic marine ecosystem. A significant proportion of microbiota of ornithogenic soil collected from an Adélie penguin colony in eastern Antarctica (Vestfold Hills ice-free zone) consisted of gram-negative, coccoid bacteria identified on the basis of their phospholipid ester-linked fatty acid and lipid class profiles as Psychrobacter strains. Phenotypic, genotypic, and 16S ribosomal DNA phylogenetic analyses revealed that the Antarctic psychrobacters belonged to three distinct groups. Comparisons with Psychrobacter immobilis and Moraxella phenylpyruvica reference cultures isolated from fish, seawater, poultry, and human clinical specimens revealed the relationships of these groups within the genus Psychrobacter. Two of the groups represent the following two novel species: Psychrobacter urativorans sp. nov. (type strain, strain ACAM 534) and Psychrobacter frigidicola sp. nov. (type strain, strain ACAM 304). The third group of strains included members of the previously described species P. immobilis (Juni and Heym 1986). In addition, M. phenylpyruvica (Bøvre and Henriksen 1967) is renamed Psychrobacter phenylpyruvicus comb. nov. (type strain, strain ACAM 535) on the basis of 16S ribosomal DNA phylogenetic data. In general, the genus Psychrobacter could be differentiated from the related genera Moraxella and Acinetobacter by the fact that the members of the genus Psychrobacter are psychrotolerant or psychrophilic and halotolerant, which reflects the ubiquitous distribution of the genus in both marine and terrestrial environments. On the basis of the results of this and previous studies, the genus Psychrobacter is the predominant genus in ornithogenic soils in Antarctica and is diverse.
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