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Microbial succession in glacial foreland soils

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  • Although viable microbial communities have been shown to exist beneath glaciers, the impact of glacial retreat on these communities and development of the resulting foreland ecosystem is not well understood. This study investigated how microbial communities respond to changing conditions brought on by glacial retreat and whether a pattern of succession, such as those found in well characterized plant systems, occurs along a soil foreland in these microbial communities. Effects of glacial retreat on the composition of microbial communities along a glacial foreland chronosequence were examined in two glaciers, Duke Glacier and Trapridge Glacier, located in the St. Elias Mountain Range, SW Yukon. Sampling of soil along either side of the glacial forelands was conducted in May and July 2011. Five subsamples were collected at each site to account for any within-site variation of communities. Due to time constraints, only one subsample at each site along the Duke left chronosequence (C1-C7) sampled in July 2011 was examined. DNA extraction results indicate an increasing trend in DNA yield of microbial communities with distance from the glacier terminus. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of partial 16S rRNA genes revealed that communities nearest the glacier terminus (C1) were distinct from all other sites. Microbial communities at sites C2-C7 (excluding C3) clustered together. These results suggest there is a rapid stabilization of microbial communities at C2, and a steady increase in biomass occurs thereafter.

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    Conference/Workshop Poster
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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 International