2013-2014 Science Planning Summaries
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An integrated ecological investigation of McMurdo Dry Valley's active soil microbial communities

Program Manager:
Dr. Charles Amsler

Event Number: B-330-M

ASC POC/Implementer:
Sune Tamm / Cara Sucher

Dr. Cristina Takacs-Vesbach (Principal Investigator)

University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Supporting Stations:  McMurdo Station
Research Locations:  Taylor and Wright Valleys

Project Description:
Because the McMurdo Dry Valley (MDV) soil bacterial community this is a microbially dominated system, knowing what fraction of the microbial diversity of the region is active and what functional role it plays is critical to understanding the ecology of the MDV. Equipped with recent advances in molecular microbial ecology techniques including highly sensitive techniques like pyrosequencing and stable isotope probing, researchers can now directly study the active members of a community, even in a low biomass system like the MDV. This project will investigate the active portion of the MDV bacterial community using an integrated molecular ecology approach to (1) identify active members; (2) determine their metabolic functions in situ; and (3) develop a habitat suitability model describing the abiotic controls on bacterial activity. The overall objective of this project will be to identify active members of the Dry Valley soil microbial community and determine their ecological role.

Field Season Overview:
Six participants will deploy to Taylor and Wright Valleys to establish soil sampling and experimental plots. Plots will be established prior to melt so that temporal variations in microbial community composition and function can be monitored. In situ manipulative experiments will be conducted each year to directly test the effect of increased carbon and moisture on microbial activity, diversity, and function. Major activities include flying to and from established field camps and plots, and walking to sampling sites whenever possible.

Deploying Team Members:

  • Justin Kendhammer
  • Egbert Schwartz (Co-PI)
  • Cristina Takacs-Vesbach (PI)
  • David Van Horn (Co-PI)

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