Glacier As A Natural Biobank That Preserves Centuries’ Diversity: A Case Study Of Culturable Fungi In Styx Glacier

Until now, glaciers have commonly been seen as a key indicator of global warming, but glacier also holds significant meaning as a historical record. During the glacier formation process, various elements like gas and particles become trapped in the ice, effectively preserving a record of the past. Additionally, researchers have observed that glaciers contain cells from a variety of organisms, some of which have been revived and referred to as “living fossils.”. However, while glacier research has predominantly focused on geochemistry, the study of biology, particularly in microbiology, has been greatly limited. In this study, we employed a culturomic approach to examine the potential for revival and diversity of fungi trapped within the Styx Glacier, located near the Jang Bogo Station in the Southwestern Antarctic region. Our findings confirmed the revival of around one hundred species of fungi and unveiled the presence of numerous new species candidates. Furthermore, through the comparative analysis of their distribution records in GBIF and sequences in the GenBank database, we revealed that these fungi could have originated from various parts of the world. This study stands as the first to reveal the microbial diversity within glaciers in the Southwestern Antarctic region and sheds light on glaciers as unexpected repositories of biological material.