SANAP Projects.

Microbial diversity, functionality and resilience in Antarctic terrestrial niche communities

Principal Investigator: Prof Don A Cowan

Discipline: Microbial ecology

Short description of the project:

This project aims to assess genetic and functional resilience in Antarctic terrestrial microbiota by using a suite of modern metagenomic techniques to assess the genetic determinants of key adaptive processes, and to determine the functional responsiveness of these determinants under changing environmental conditions. The project is based on a series of research questions:

i. How does the functional capacity and potential of soil and niche microbial communities vary across transitional, chemical and soil property gradients?

ii. What are the specific genetic and physiological strategies employed by niche community species to respond to critical environmental changes (freeze-thaw, desiccation), which might be factors in species and community resilience?

iii. What are the responses of niche communities and community functions over short-term climate change cycles?

iv. Do Antarctic soil microorganisms, grown under imposed stress conditions, exhibit detectable genomic evolution?

Contact Details



Address:      Centre for Microbial Ecology and Genomics, University of Pretoria, Pretoria

Tel:               +27(0) 12 420 5873

Social Media

Facebook:   Centre-for-Microbial-Ecology-and-Genomics

Twitter:       doncowan10

© South African National Antarctic Programme • Managed and administered by Antarctic Legacy of South Africa • Photo Credits