Snow microorganisms colonise Arctic soils following snow melt

Lucie A. Malard*, Benoit Bergk-Pinto, Rose Layton, Timothy M. Vogel, Catherine Larose, David A. Pearce*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Arctic soils are constantly subjected to microbial invasion from either airborne, marine, or animal sources, which may impact local microbial communities and ecosystem functioning. However, in winter, Arctic soils are isolated from outside sources other than snow, which is the sole source of microorganisms. Successful colonisation of soil by snow microorganisms depends on the ability to survive and compete of both, the invading and resident community. Using shallow shotgun metagenome sequencing and amplicon sequencing, this study monitored snow and soil microbial communities throughout snow melt to investigate the colonisation process of Arctic soils. Microbial colonisation likely occurred as all the characteristics of successful colonisation were observed. The colonising microorganisms originating from the snow were already adapted to the local environmental conditions and were subsequently subjected to many similar conditions in the Arctic soil. Furthermore, competition-related genes (e.g., motility and virulence) increased in snow samples as the snow melted. Overall, one hundred potentially successful colonisers were identified in the soil and, thus, demonstrated the deposition and growth of snow microorganisms in soils during melt.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1661-1675
Number of pages15
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number3
Early online date20 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023

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