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McMurdo region meltwater ponds bacterioplankton survey

Latest version published by SCAR - Microbial Antarctic Resource System on Aug 14, 2014 SCAR - Microbial Antarctic Resource System

The investigation of bacterioplankton, mat and sediment microbial communities from the Bratina Island meltwater ponds in Late November 2009, January 2012 and January 2013 and from meltwater ponds at the mouth of the Miers Valley in January 2013 using 16S rRNA pyrosequencing. Ponds range in size from 1 to several hundred square meters in surface area, 1-4m in depth and represent a broad variety of unique geochemistries. They are formed in the landscape depressions and are maintained from local ice and snow melt.


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GBIF Registration

This resource has been registered with GBIF, and assigned the following GBIF UUID: c36e6f54-f1e0-42d0-88dc-0e8939214076.  SCAR - Microbial Antarctic Resource System publishes this resource, and is itself registered in GBIF as a data publisher endorsed by Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.


Occurrence; Bacterioplankton; meltwater; ponds; Bratina Island; McMurdo; Ice Shelf; mat; sediment; community; microbial; 16S; sequencing; Occurrence; Specimen


Who created the resource:

Stephen Archer
PhD Candidate
University of Waikato Hamilton NZ

Who can answer questions about the resource:

PhD Candidate
University of Waikato NZ

Who filled in the metadata:

Stephen Archer
PhD Candidate
University of Waikato Hamilton NZ

Who else was associated with the resource:

Stephen Archer
PhD Candidate
University of Waikato Hamilton NZ
Principal Investigator
Professor, Project PI
University of Waikato Hamilton NZ

Geographic Coverage

Bratina Island, Miers Valley

Bounding Coordinates South West [-78.17, 163.98], North East [-77.99, 165.71]

Taxonomic Coverage


Project Data

No Description available

Title Bacterial Communities in the meltwater ponds of the McMurdo region, Antarctica
Funding Logistical and Science support provided by the Antarctica New Zealand Postgraduate Research scholarships: 2009 - New Zealand Post/Antarctica New Zealand Scholarship 2012/13 - Sir Robin Irvine/Antarctica New Zealand Scholarship Additional support from the University of Waikato and the International Centre for Terrestrial Antarctic Research
Study Area Description Study sites - meltwater ponds formed in landscape depressions. Bratina Island site: Located in the McMurdo sound, 30km from Ross Island at the tip of Brown peninsular. Ponds located adjacent to the Bratina Island research camp on the McMurdo Ice shelf. Up to 30cm of marine derived sediments cover the Ice Shelf, ponds typically thaw completely during the summer and freeze completely in the winter.
Design Description Samples collected from the pond surface, water columns, mats and sediments of a number of geochemically variable meltwater ponds to describe the microbial community and the influence of geochemical, temporal and spatial to community structure. The ponds are extremely geochemically heterogeneous providing a representative overview of the typical pond chemistries across a range of Antarctic ponds.

The personnel involved in the project:

Content Provider

Sampling Methods

Ponds were initially identified at Bratina Island using a map based on one produced by New Zealand Department of Land and Surveys, 1991. General pond surveys were also conducted from the edge of the pond, ponds suspected of having a stratified water column had samples collected from the approximate center of the pond using a micromanipulator sampling apparatus at increments ranging from 0.5 to 80 cm guided by changes in pH and conductivity in the water column. Up to 40 samples were collected from a single water column. Before sampling the tube was flushed with 2 void volumes (at each depth) before each sample was collected then 5-120 mL of sample was immediately filtered through syringe-mounted 0.22 μm filters (Whatman International Ltd, Kent, UK) until the filter clogged. A small amount of air was pushed through the filter to remove excess water, then gently flooded with a nucleic acid preservative/lysis buffer (CTAB - cetyltrimethylammonium bromide-polyvinylpyrrolidone-β-mecaptoethanol) and frozen for transport back to the laboratory. Thirteen mL of the filtrate was collected during sampling in 15 mL falcon tubes, and frozen immediately for later geochemical analysis. In situ measurement of water temperature, conductivity, pH and oxygen concentration were determined using a variety of regularly calibrated hand-held instruments. Sediment cores, four-centimeters in depth, were collected from the edge of 19 fully thawed meltwater ponds during the summer season in January 2012 (6 ponds) and January 2013 (7 ponds) from Bratina Island (78° 01' S, 165° 32' E) and the Miers Valley (6 ponds) (78° 07' S, 164° 12' E). A total of 26 samples were collected including triplicates from Huey (2012 and 2013) and P70E (2013) ponds, Bratina Island (Table 1). Sites were selected to encompass a broad range of surface water geochemistries (Chapter 3) from a comparative set of ponds at each location. Cores were aseptically collected using a disposable push-corer developed from a 50mL syringe (BD, Singapore). The corer (with the plunger removed) was inserted 4-6cm into the sediment, the plunger reinserted and corer removed carefully to retain the sediment structure. After excess sediment was removed each core was sub-sectioned into four one-centimeter samples into a sterile 15 oz whirlpack (Nasco, WI, USA) for individual DNA extraction then frozen for transportation to the laboratory. In-situ measurements of dissolved oxygen, pH, Temperature and conductivity were measured using an HQ40d portable multi-parameter meter (Hach Company, CO, USA).

Study Extent Sampling area; Bratina Island ponds located within 1km from the study camp on the McMurdo Ice Shelf. Miers Valley ponds within 1km of the eastern mouth of the valley Temporal - Samples were collected during the Austral summer in November 2009, January 2012 and January 2013, a single time point per pond per year
Quality Control All sampling apparatus was sterilised with ethanol and washed with MQ H20 to ensure environment and samples were not biologically contaminated. Hand held meters were calibrated before each sampling session to ensure accurate measurements.

Method step description:

  1. Sampling procedure

Collection Data

Collection Name n/a
Collection Identifier n/a
Parent Collection Identifier n/a
Specimen preservation methods No treatment

Bibliographic Citations

  1. Archer SDJ, McDonald IR, Herbold CW, Cary SC (2014) Characterisation of bacterioplankton communities in the meltwater ponds of Bratina Island, Victoria Land, Antarctica. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1574-6941.12358 doi: 10.1111/1574-6941.12358