This study is the first demonstration that a diverse facultatively methylotrophic microbiota exists in some Antarctic locations. PCR amplification of genes diagnostic for methylotrophs was carried out with bacterial DNA isolated from 14 soil and sediment samples from ten locations on Signy Island, South Orkney Islands, Antarctica. Genes encoding the mxaF of methanol dehydrogenase, the fdxA for Afipia ferredoxin, the msmA of methanesulfonate monooxygenase, and the 16S rRNA gene of Methylobacterium were detected in all samples tested. The mxaF gene sequences corresponded to those of Hyphomicrobium, Methylobacterium, and Methylomonas. Over 30 pure cultures of methylotrophs were isolated on methanesulfonate, dimethylsulfone, or dimethylsulfide from ten Signy Island lakes. Some were identified from 16S rRNA gene sequences (and morphology) as Hyphomicrobium species, strains of Afipia felis, and a methylotrophic Flavobacterium strain. Antarctic environments thus contain diverse methylotrophic bacteria, growing on various C1-substrates, including C1-sulfur compounds.
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