The Polar Regions have excellent potential for bioprospecting because the microorganisms that live there have adapted to extreme environmental conditions; and these adaptations can be harnessed in a variety of biotechnological applications. In this study, we describe the community structure of a range of different cryospheric habitats to identify environments appropriate for specific bioprospecting activities. Samples were collected from Midtre Lovénbreen glacier and surrounds in Spitzbergen, Svalbard in late June to early July 2017. Many cryospheric environment types were sampled including air, snow, slush, meltwater, cryoconite, proglacial water, soil and seawater. DNA was extracted and prepared for 16S amplicon sequencing. Amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) were assigned using DADA2 and contaminants were removed using the Decontam package in R. We searched the scientific literature for biotechnological applications of abundant community members in each environment. Each environment type displayed a unique community structure, with some physically linked environment types, like glacial snow, slush and meltwater showing continuity through space, and synchronised changes over time. The snow, slush and meltwater habitats were low in biomass and dominated by Gammaproteobacteria, with Cyanobacteria increasing in abundance as melt progressed. Cryoconite was dominated by Cyanobacteria, while sea water was dominated by Bacteriodetes, Gammaproteobacteria and Cyanobacteria. Soil was by far the most biodiverse habitat, with many phyla represented, and a large number of Actinobacteria suitable for antimicrobial discovery. Many of the current EPS, cold-active enzymes, fatty acids, antioxidants and antifreeze proteins are sourced from Proteobacteria and Cyanobacteria, the most abundant phyla in this study.


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