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Active microbial ecosystem in glacier basal ice fuelled by iron and silicate comminution-derived hydrogen
  • +3
  • Mario Toubes-Rodrigo,
  • Sanja Potgieter-Vermaak,
  • Robin Sen,
  • Edda Oddsdottir,
  • David Elliott,
  • Simon Cook
Mario Toubes-Rodrigo
The Open University
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Sanja Potgieter-Vermaak
Manchester Metropolitan University
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Edda Oddsdottir
Icelandic Forest Research
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David Elliott
University of Derby
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Simon Cook
University of Dundee
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Abstract

The basal zone of glaciers is characterised by physicochemical properties that are distinct from firnified ice because of strong interactions with underlying substrate. Basal ice ecology and the roles that the microbiota play in biogeochemical cycling, weathering, and proglacial soil formation, remains poorly known. We report bacterial diversity and potential ecological roles at three temperate Icelandic glaciers. We sampled three physically distinct basal ice facies (stratified, dispersed, debris bands) and found biological similarities and differences between them; basal ice character is therefore an important sampling consideration in future studies. High abundance of silicates and Fe-containing minerals could sustain the basal ice ecosystem, in which chemolithotrophic bacteria (~23%), especially Fe-oxidisers and hydrogenotrophs, can fix C, which can be utilised by heterotrophs. Methanogenic-affiliated detected sequences showed that silicate comminution-derived hydrogen can also be utilised for methanogenesis. Metabolism predicted by 16S rRNA diversity revealed that methane metabolism and C-fixation are the most common pathways, indicating the importance of these metabolic routes. Carbon concentrations were low compared to other ecosystems, but we report the highest carbon concentration in basal ice to date. Carbon release from melting basal ice may play an important role in promoting pioneering communities establishment and soil development in deglaciating forelands.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

01 Feb 2021Submitted to MicrobiologyOpen
02 Feb 2021Submission Checks Completed
02 Feb 2021Assigned to Editor
09 Feb 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
26 Feb 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
26 Feb 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Major
26 Mar 20211st Revision Received
27 Mar 2021Submission Checks Completed
27 Mar 2021Assigned to Editor
28 Mar 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
29 Mar 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
09 Apr 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
25 Apr 20212nd Revision Received
26 Apr 2021Submission Checks Completed
26 Apr 2021Assigned to Editor
26 Apr 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
26 Apr 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
04 May 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
10 May 20213rd Revision Received
10 May 2021Assigned to Editor
10 May 2021Submission Checks Completed
10 May 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
11 May 2021Editorial Decision: Accept