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Perennial Antarctic Lake Ice: An Oasis for Life in a Polar Desert

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Science  26 Jun 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5372, pp. 2095-2098
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5372.2095

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Abstract

The permanent ice covers of Antarctic lakes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys develop liquid water inclusions in response to solar heating of internal aeolian-derived sediments. The ice sediment particles serve as nutrient (inorganic and organic)–enriched microzones for the establishment of a physiologically and ecologically complex microbial consortium capable of contemporaneous photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation, and decomposition. The consortium is capable of physically and chemically establishing and modifying a relatively nutrient- and organic matter–enriched microbial “oasis” embedded in the lake ice cover.

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