A range of small- to moderate-scale studies of patterns in bacterial biodiversity have been conducted in Antarctica over the last two decades, most suggesting strong correlations between the described bacterial communities and elements of local environmental heterogeneity. However, very few of these studies have advanced interpretations in terms of spatially associated patterns, despite increasing evidence of patterns in bacterial biogeography globally. This is likely to be a consequence of restricted sampling coverage, with most studies to date focusing only on a few localities within a specific Antarctic region. Clearly, there is now a need for synthesis over a much larger spatial to consolidate the available data. In this study, we collated Antarctic bacterial culture identities based on the 16S rRNA gene information available in the literature and the GenBank database (n > 2,000 sequences). In contrast to some recent evidence for a distinct Antarctic microbiome, our phylogenetic comparisons show that a majority (~75 %) of Antarctic bacterial isolates were highly similar (≥99 % sequence similarity) to those retrieved from tropical and temperate regions, suggesting widespread distribution of eurythermal mesophiles in Antarctic environments. However, across different Antarctic regions, the dominant bacterial genera exhibit some spatially distinct diversity patterns analogous to those recently proposed for Antarctic terrestrial macroorganisms. Taken together, our results highlight the threat of cross-regional homogenisation in Antarctic biodiversity, and the imperative to include microbiota within the framework of biosecurity measures for Antarctica.
- Antarctic microbiology
- Psychrophile ecology