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Sea Ice Microorganisms: Environmental Constraints and Extracellular Responses

Full Citation: 
Ewert, M., Deming, J. W. (2013) Sea Ice Microorganisms: Environmental Constraints and Extracellular Responses. Biology 2013, 2(2), 603-628.
Inherent to sea ice, like other high latitude environments, is the strong seasonality driven by changes in insolation throughout the year. Sea-ice organisms are exposed to shifting, sometimes limiting, conditions of temperature and salinity. An array of adaptations to survive these and other challenges has been acquired by those organisms that inhabit the ice. One key adaptive response is the production of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), which play multiple roles in the entrapment, retention and survival of microorganisms in sea ice. In this concept paper we consider two main areas of sea-ice microbiology: the physico-chemical properties that define sea ice as a microbial habitat, imparting particular advantages and limits; and extracellular responses elicited in microbial inhabitants as they exploit or survive these conditions. Emphasis is placed on protective strategies used in the face of fluctuating and extreme environmental conditions in sea ice. Gaps in knowledge and testable hypotheses are identified for future research.
Research Areas: 
Life in Extreme Environments