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UPCOMING SEMINAR: Professor Craig Cary

Posted by on 15 July 2019 | Comments

12:00noon Monday 15th July
Room 208, 2nd floor,
Microbiology builing,
720 Cumberland Street

Professor Craig Cary
University of Waikato

Exposing the Unique Microbial Biogeography of Antarctica’s Extreme Terrestrial Refugia

After almost 60 years of dedicated terrestrial biological research in Antarctica we are only now beginning to understand the uniqueness and complexity of these fragile ecosystems. Use of powerful genetic tools has revealed a far more diverse and functionally complex system that appears structured predominantly by abiotic parameters but where biotic interactions still play a role.  The interplay of microclimate and geochemistry overlaid onto landscape history constitute the dominating environmental factors that drive composition and structure of these cryptic communities. Recent studies have revealed that the biotic component is incredibly responsive to subtle changes in the environment resulting in a dramatic shift in community structure and a significant decline in biodiversity in just a few years. Such responsiveness suggests that, if better understood, these communities can serve as early warning sentinels to change.  The geothermal systems in Antarctica support a diverse microbiota and may have served as essential refugia for terrestrial organisms before and during periodic glacial maxima. As the most remote geothermal environments on the planet, they also provide a rare opportunity to address questions around microbial biogeography and the interactions between globally distributed and endemic microbes. Despite their biological importance, these extremely remote geothermal locations remain vastly understudied.