Who lives in meltwater from glaciers?

by Jacob Yde, April 24, 2020

New publication: Study reveals the microbial community structure in meltwater from Austerdalsbreen and other circum-Arctic glaciers.


A new paper published in Frontiers in Microbiology examines microbial assemblages exported from 24 glaciers in central Norway, Svalbard, Iceland, Greenland and Alaska.

- This study provides the first hints on the glacial ecosystem structure at Jostedalsbreen. If JOSTICE finds liquid water at great depth beneath Jostedalsbreen, we will also expect there to be microbial life adapted to this extreme environment, says JOSTICE team member Jacob Yde. He participated in the investigation together with colleagues from USA, UK, Germany, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic.

The study is based on 16S rRNA and water chemistry analyses from glacial meltwater portals. The glaciers in the study differ in rock types and ice dynamics; some move slowly while others have a history of glacier surge activity. The study shows that the microbial composition in glacial meltwater is dominated by a combination of cosmopolitan and regionally unique microorganisms.