Prokaryotic assemblages in suspended and subglacial sediments within a glacierized catchment on Qeqertarsuaq (Disko Island), west Greenland

Jakub D. Žárský*, Tyler J. Kohler, Jacob C. Yde, Lukáš Falteisek, Guillaume Lamarche-Gagnon, Jon R. Hawkings, Jade E. Hatton, Marek Stibal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
225 Downloads (Pure)


Microbes transported by glacial meltwater streams are thought to be a product of passive dispersal from both supra- and subglacial sources, though studies investigating the origins of these assemblages are scarce. Here, we conducted a survey within a large catchment containing multiple glaciers on Qeqertarsuaq (Disko Island), west Greenland, to investigate whether meltwater-exported microbial assemblages in suspended sediments differ between glacial meltwater streams, and if they reflect corresponding bulk subglacial and extraglacial sediment communities. Using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, we found proglacial stream assemblages substantially differ from one another, despite their close spatial proximity. Furthermore, proglacial stream assemblages were composed of greater proportions of Cyanobacteria compared to bulk subglacial sediment communities, dominated by Betaproteobacteria, demonstrating large contributions of meltwater and microbial cells from supraglacial habitats. Corresponding physico-chemical characteristics of meltwater suggest that streams draining smaller glaciers had more equal contributions of both supra- and subglacial inputs compared with the main catchment outlet, aligning with observed changes in assemblage structure, such as the decreased proportion of Cyanobacteria. These results suggest that glacier size and hydrological drainage systems may influence the structure of exported microbial assemblages, and collectively provide insights into their formation and fate in this current age of deglaciation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberfiy100
Number of pages10
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number7
Early online date28 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • 16S rRNA gene
  • Glacial export
  • Mass effects
  • Microbial diversity
  • Subglacial ecosystem

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