Distribution and abundance of soil fungi in Antarctica at sites on the Peninsula, Ross Sea Region and McMurdo Dry Valleys

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Fungal abundance and diversity were studied from 245 soil samples collected in 18 distinct ice-free locations in Antarctica including areas in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Ross Sea Region, and the Antarctic Peninsula. Cultivable fungal abundance in soil was found to be most positively correlated with percent carbon and nitrogen based on a Spearman's rank correlation test of six soil parameters. Soil moisture and C/N ratio were also positively correlated with fungal abundance while pH and conductivity were negatively correlated. These results suggest that nutrient limitations in these highly oligotrophic environments are a primary factor in determining the distribution and abundance of indigenous fungi. Other effects of the extreme Antarctic environment likely affect fungi indirectly by limiting the distribution and abundance of plant-derived sources of carbon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-315
Number of pages8
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the crew of the HMS Endurance for facilitating travel to sites on the Antarctic Peninsula in 2007. We also specifically thank John Shears and Dave Burkitt from BAS and Stephen Pointing and Maggie Lau from the University of Hong Kong as well as Joel Jurgens and Ben Held from the University of Minnesota for assistance with sampling events. Thanks to David Manning for assistance with carbon and nitrogen analysis. We thank Mark Holland of the University of Minnesota for advice with statistical analysis and support personnel of Scott Base and McMurdo Station and Antarctica New Zealand and National Science Foundation for logistic support. This research is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Grant No. 0537143 .


  • Antarctica
  • Biodiversity
  • Carbon
  • Fungi
  • Microbial Ecology
  • Nitrogen
  • PH
  • Salinity


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