The phylogeny of bacteria from a modern Antarctic refuge
The 16S rRNAs of nine new species of prokaryotes, that had been isolated from four lakes of the Vestfold Hills, have been sequenced. These sequences were compared with those of their closest taxonomic relatives available from publicly available databases. The Antarctic species were of wide diversity with representatives from the domains Archaea and Bacteria (sensu Woese). Generally, they were most closely related to organisms from marine environments. The sequence dissimilarity between the rRNA sequences of the Antarctic strains and their nearest known relatives suggest they diverged from each other much earlier than the establishment of their modern Antarctic habitat. The conserved nature of the 16S rRNA molecule suggests it may not be as useful for detecting evolutionary change in Antarctic prokaryotes as distinct from non-Antarctic prokaryotes. Although the optimal temperature for growth of each species is well above the temperature of its environment, each has a reduced optimal temperature for growth when compared with its taxonomic counterpart from non-Antarctic environments. The vast majority of Antarctic prokaryotes remains to be described.(Received January 25 1993)
(Accepted May 6 1993)
Key Words: Antarctic prokaryotes; 16S rRNA; phylogeny; biodiversity; psychrotrophs.