Molecular identification of eukaryotic communities from polar glacial ice cores BIOICE-UC



Professor Dr. Hartmut Arndt 
Universität zu Köln 
Cologne Biocenter 
Zoological Institute 
General Ecology


Project Description

The special physical and chemical conditions of glacial ice and permafrost allow the longterm preservation of unicellular organisms. These environments are known to serve as a unique matrix offering a long-term record of unicellular organisms. Organisms trapped in ice cores can provide information on ancient biodiversity and in some cases even on evolutionary processes. While bacteria have been recorded from ice estimated to be as old as 750,000 years, there is only very little information on protists. Up to now, green algae and fungi have been reported from ice cores older than 100,000 years indicating that protists can be identified in old cores. Heterotrophic protists are the major components of all terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and form the major part of dormant stages of eukaryotes transported via the atmosphere, this is supported by our preliminary studies within the current project. The major objective of the prolongation of the project is to detect and characterize ancient heterotrophic eukaryotes using the much more efficient 454 next generation sequencing. In cooperation with the AWI, working on glaciology and microbiology, the project is aimed to contribute new ideas to the understanding of ancient biodiversity in the context of climatic changes. Due to large amounts of ice necessary to study diversity patterns we like to include now also permafrost samples. According to our pre-work, heterotrophic nanoprotists, due to their specific ecological requirements, should serve as potential indicator organisms for changes in environmental conditions. Together with our project partners (proposal by Töbe et al., Bündelantrag BIOICE), we hope to create a lot of new information of ancient occurrences of protists and to create a data set combining prokaryote and eukaryote biodiversity patterns which may serve as a new proxy in future.


DFG Programme: Infrastructure Priority Programmes

Final Report

Term from 2008 to 2013