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Freshwater Flows Into The Arctic and Southern Oceans May Determine The Composition Of Microbial Populations

Differing contributions of freshwater from glaciers and streams to the Arctic and Southern oceans appear to be responsible for the fact that the majority of microbial communities that thrive near the surface at the Poles share few common members, according to an international team of researchers, some of whom were supported by the National Science Foundation.

In a paper published in the Oct. 8 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers report that only 25 percent of the taxonomic groups identified by genetic sequencing that are found at the surface of these waters are common between the two polar oceans. The differences were not as pronounced among microbes deeper in the oceans, with a 40 percent commonality for those populations.

Image credit: Alison E. Murray, Desert Research Institute