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Molecular diversity of Antarctic soil meiofauna explored using high-throughput sequencing

Molecular diversity of Antarctic soil meiofauna explored using high-throughput sequencing
Paul Czechowski


Paul Czechowski1,2,3, Laurence J. Clarke2, Alan Cooper2 and Mark I. Stevens3

  1. School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
  2. Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
  3. South Australian Museum, Adelaide, Australia


Terrestrial vertebrate species are absent from continental Antarctica, but some small, isolated ice-free regions support simple invertebrate meiofaunal communities (springtails, mites, nematodes, rotifers, tardigrades). The distribution of Antarctic invertebrates remains unknown, as the majority of remote ice-free areas have not been surveyed. Also, the biotic or abiotic drivers of soil organism distribution remain elusive. In addition, the evolutionary history of the Antarctic meiofauna is intriguing, as it may have persisted in isolation for millions of years.

The aim of this research is to develop a cost and time-efficient method to characterise Antarctic invertebrate communities using DNA sequence data generated with high-throughput sequencing platforms. Application of these methods to 280 soil samples collected from three sites in the Prince Charles Mountains, East Antarctica will expand the baseline record of biological information in Antarctica.

We have developed a method to amplify a target locus, e.g. cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI), and add barcoded NGS adapters via a linker sequence using a single PCR, providing a flexible, cost-effective and efficient alternative to current approaches used to generate libraries for high-throughput sequencing. The method is easily transferable to different sequencing platforms and its suitability for use with environmental DNA is currently being tested.

The potential to screen many samples using high-throughput sequencing technology will facilitate large-scale biodiversity surveys in Antarctica. Combining information on species distributions in the Prince Charles Mountains and other Antarctic regions with environmental metadata will provide valuable insights on biotic and abiotic drivers in Antarctic ecosystems.

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Key dates

  • 11th June 2013
    Registrations close
  • 21st June 2013
    Registrations at the AAD open for staff
  • 24th June 2013
    Registrations at the venue open
  • 24th June 2013
    Conference commences
  • 26th June 2013
    Conference concludes

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This page was last modified on 23 September 2013.