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A smelly business: microbiology of Adélie penguin guano (Point Thomas rookery, Antarctica)

Grzesiak, Jakub and Kaczyńska, Agata and Gawor, Jan and Żuchniewicz, Karolina and Gromadka, Robert and Aleksandrzak-Piekarczyk, Tamara and Zdanowski, Marek K (2020) A smelly business: microbiology of Adélie penguin guano (Point Thomas rookery, Antarctica). Science of The Total Environment, 714 . p. 36714. ISSN 0048-9697

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Official URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/...


Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) are the most numerous flightless bird group breeding in coastal areas of Maritime and Continental Antarctica. Their activity leaves a mark on the land in the form of large guano deposits. This guano is an important nutrient source for terrestrial habitats of ice-free Antarctic areas, most notably by being the source of ammonia vapors which feed the surrounding grass, lichen and algae communities. Although investigated by researchers, the fate of the guano-associated microbial community and its role in decomposition processes remain vague. Therefore, by employing several direct community assessment methods combined with a broad culture-based approach we provide data on bacterial numbers, their activity and taxonomic affiliation in recently deposited and decayed Adélie penguin guano sampled at the Point Thomas rookery in Maritime Antarctica (King George Island). Our research indicates that recently deposited guano harbored mostly bacteria of penguin gut origin, presumably inactive in cold rookery settings. This material was rich in mesophilic enzymes active also at low temperatures, likely mediating early stage decomposition. Fresh guano colonization by environmental bacteria was minor, accomplished mostly by ammonia scavenging Jeotgalibaca sp. cells. Decayed guano contained 10-fold higher bacterial numbers with cold-active enzymes dominating the samples. Guano was colonized by uric-acid degrading and lipolytic Psychrobacter spp. and proteolytic Chryseobacterium sp. among others. Several spore-forming bacteria of penguin gut origin persisted in highly decomposed material, most notably uric-acid fermenting members of the Gottschalkiaceae family.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ammonia, Jeotgalibaca, uric acid, Psychrobacter, targeted 16S metagenomics, 8 enzyme activity
Subjects:Q Science > QR Microbiology
Divisions:Department of Antarctic Biology
ID Code:1815
Deposited By: Jakub Grzesiak
Deposited On:30 Jan 2020 11:42
Last Modified:28 Sep 2020 13:45

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