Antarctic Fungi

G439: 2010 Expedition includes news, photo galleries, maps and project updates at this excellent off-site resource.

Yeast Flag and Observation Tube 2010Penguins and ShipSealsIndian Island School FlagWeather in AntarcticaCravass School 2010Blood Falls, Antarctica 2010Flag Cape Royds 2010Fumerols 2010G-439 515Ice BergCampPiston Bully 2010RA Ice Tower 63979U 2Antarctic SoilsAntarctic FungiCamp Royds Camp SiteSunset on McMurdo StationWalcott Glacier Area- Dirty IceView Near McMurdo Station

From "Golf 4-3-9 Antarctica Expedition 2008

Exploring the Rock Bottom of the Food Web in McMurdo's Extreme Environments": In the broadest sense, G-439 project (spelled “golf four-three-nine”) aims at improving our understanding of the “rock bottom” of the food chain. How can microbes make organic carbon only by using inorganic components?

Which microbes are the main players in utilizing inorganic carbon and chemical energy and nutrients from rocks and soils that are very poor in organic matter?Antarctica is a very harsh continent with very little life. Food webs have to be very “creative” to adjust to conditions that have been compared to life on other planets or life during the early Earth. We are using these special conditions to explore which microbes are the most successful at using nutrients and energy from volcanic rocks. These types of rocks have been implicated as a potential host for a substantial biomass on Earth and possibly provides a substrate for the evolution of early life.

To pursue these goals, we set out bacterial traps that include volcanic glass as “bait”. Glass is a common geological material that appears to be particularly attractive for the growth of a wide range of microbes in other settings on Earth (for an example, visit the website of the Fe-oxidizing Microbial Observatory). We will use two different types of substrates, one existing of polished surfaces to allow study of biocorrosion and biofilm formation, and one existing of rock powders from which we can isolate microbes. Our study will include prokayotes (e.g. bacteria) and micro-eukaryotes (fungi, yeasts) to get a first-order understanding of the complete food web involved in the utilization of volcanic rocks.

Discover more about Antarctica and our research here:


  1. Connell, L B and H Staudigel (2013). "Fungal diversity in a dark oligotrophic volcanic ecosystem (DOVE) on Mount Erebus, Antarctica " Biology 2(2): 798- 809. doi: 10.3390/biology2020798 [Biology]
  2. Slemmons, C, G Johnson and L B Connell (2012)."Application of an Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis databasefor identification of cultured Antarctic fungi." Antarctic Science 25(1), 44–50 (2013) [VIEW PDF]
  3. Connell, L B, R S Redman, R J Rodriguez, A Barrett, M Iszard and Á Fonesca (2010). "Dioszegia antarctica and D. cryoxerica spp. nov., two novel psychrophilic basidiomycetous yeasts from polar desert soils inAntarctica." International Journal of
    Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology 60: 1466-1472. doi:10.1099/ijs.0.015412-0. [VIEW PDF]
  4. Staudigel, H, H Furnes, N McLoughlin, N R Banerjee, LB Connell and A S Templeton (2008). "3.5 billion years of glass bioalteration: Volcanic rocks as a basis for microbial life? ." Earth-Science Reviews 89: 156-176. doi: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2008.04.005. [VIEW PDF]
  5. Turchetti, B, S R Thomas-Hall, L B Connell, E  Branda, P Buzzini, B Theelen, W H Müller and T Boekhou (2011). "Psychrophilicyeasts from Antarctica and European glaciers. Description of Glaciozyma gen. nov., Glaciozyma martinii sp. nov and Glaciozyma watsonii  sp. nov." Extremophiles 15(5): 573-586. doi:10.1007/s00792-011-0388-x [VIEW PDF]
  6. Connell LB, Barrett A, Redman R, and Rodriguez R. (2008) The utility of 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridin (BrdU) for identification of active micro-fungi from Antarctic soil. Polar and Alpine Microbiology Conference 2008. Banff, BC, Canada. [ABSTRACT]
  7. Connell LB, Redman R, Craig SD, Scorzetti G, Iszard M, and Rodriguez R, (2008) Diversity of soil yeasts isolated from South Victoria Land, Antarctica. Microbial Ecology.56:448-459 [VIEW PDF]
  8. Connell LB, Redman R, Craig SD, Rodriguez R (2006) Distribution and abundance of fungi in the soils of Taylor Valley, Antarctica. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 38: 3083–3094 [VIEW PDF]
  9. Connell, L. B., R. Redman, S. D. Craig and R. Rodriguez (2005). Abundance and distribution of yeast and yeast-like fungi in Taylor Valley Antarctica. Synthesis of Soil Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning in Victoria Land, Antarctica, Jekyll Island, GA USA. 

Projects funded by:

©  2012, Laurie Connell - University of Maine - A Member of the University of Maine System