Just in the nick of time before the end of summer, four scientists arrived by air to conduct soil sampling across the Casey region as part of a project led by Associate Professor Belinda Ferrari from the University of New South Wales. The “Ferrari Team” consisted of Belinda, PhD student Eden Zhang, and AAD scientists Dr Dan Wilkins and Dr Cath King.
Following on from a recent Nature paper in which the team discovered air breathing bacteria from Antarctic soils in the Windmill Islands, samples were taken in 300 metre transects across three sites at Mitchell Peninsula, Robinsons Ridge and Browning Peninsula. We also managed to obtain aerial footage using a drone of the spectacular patterned grounds at Browning which will assist in data interpretation. This study was first initiated some 15 years ago at the same sites using the same sampling strategy to explore regional patterns in microbial biodiversity.
It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, but with help from Field Training Officer Mark Raymond, the team now has all samples in hand, ready for departure on the last flight of the season. Once back home, the big task of sample processing will begin. The goal of this research is to understand how microbial communities change through time, and to determine the extent of the unique ‘breatharian’ bacteria in Antarctic soils.
Thanks to all on station for the support we have been given which enabled us to complete our field work at an incredibly busy time as all the summer projects wrap up. To the 2019 wintering team, we hope you have a wonderful year!