The primary objective of this event was to examine possible environmental factors (moisture, nutrients, mineralogy) driving the microbial diversity in the dry valley soils of Antarctica. 325 mineral soil samples (15-50 mls) were collected from different sites in and around the upper Miers Valley. Sights included a well-defined altitudinal gradient set (150 samples) on the northern flank of the ... valley from valley floor to summit (482m elevation), 15 seal carcasses from the valley and the associated Northern access to the Marshall Valley (113 samples), different mineral outcrops or unusual site in the valley (37 samples), and hypolithic communities beneath translucent rocks (25 samples). The gradient was set to exploit the greatest moisture gradient in the valley. The seal carcasses represented an obvious introduction of carbon and nitrogen to an otherwise nutrient depleted ecosystem. The hypolithic community, mineral outcrops and otherwise unusual sites were for a general valley image of microbial biodiversity. Successful extraction and genetic analysis of microbial DNA from 90 valley floor mineral soils was accomplished to determine the validity of sample quality prior to returning to New Zealand. Further analysis was conducted in laboratories including phylogenetic diversity analysis, microbial biomass and isolation of DNA for metagenomic studies.
All of the collected samples are stored at the University of Waikato, Hamilton New Zealand in a PC2 containment facility. Various amounts of the samples are held at the University of Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa. The samples are stored at -80C. The samples were used for DNA analysis and this analysis uses very little material. Therefore, most if not all, of the samples still exist. ... Soil samples were collected along a transect in the Miers Valley. 12 stations were samples with three samples and the data along with these samples includes elevation, GPS position, volumetric water content, temperature and relative humidity. Mummified seal samples were also collected and the corresponding data includes seal number, location, GPS details, altitude, photo number, dentition number, length and associated notes. Soil samples for the biodiversity study corresponding data includes sample number, GPS information, the date collected, altitude and a site description. A set of full transect samples and samples of hypoliths are held in South Africa.
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