Exploring the diversity of soil microbes and their biomolecules in Victoria Land (MicroBiomA-S)
Highly specialized rock and soil communities live in scattered ice-free areas of continental Antarctica. The biodiversity of Antarctic rock communities has been recently investigated, while data on the biodiversity of soil microbiota are still rare and scattered. Knowledge is scarce about the structure and functional diversity of soil microbial communities and their capability to adapt to biotic and abiotic factors. Recent next generation sequencing based studies have brought new insights into the biodiversity and composition of soil microbial communities, that showed to be richer than previously thought, with a high degree of endemism.
This project, coordinated by Solveig Tosi (University of Pavia, Italy) and founded funded by the Italian National Program for Antarctic Researches (PNRA), aims to fill some of these gaps thanks to a multidisciplinary approach that integrates molecular genetics, biogeochemical, proteomics, and metabolomics analyses for the study of both fungal and bacterial diversity. Victoria Land can be considered an excellent study model for these purposes because of the presence of a wide variety of soil habitats, from oligotrophic to copiotrophic, with minimal human impact.