Experimental warming increases fungal alpha diversity in an oligotrophic maritime Antarctic soil

Kevin Newsham, Marta Misiak, William Goodall-Copestake, Malin Dahl, Lynne Boddy, David Hopkins, Marie Davey

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The climate of maritime Antarctica has altered since the 1950s. However, the effects of increased temperature, precipitation and organic carbon and nitrogen availability on the fungal communities inhabiting the barren and oligotrophic fellfield soils that are widespread across the region are poorly understood. Here, we test how warming with open top chambers (OTCs), irrigation and the organic substrates glucose, glycine and tryptone soy broth (TSB) influence a fungal community inhabiting an oligotrophic maritime Antarctic fellfield soil. In contrast with studies in vegetated soils at lower latitudes, OTCs increased fungal community alpha diversity (Simpson’s index and evenness) by 102–142% in unamended soil after 5 years. Conversely, OTCs had few effects on diversity in substrate-amended soils, with their only main effects, in glycine-amended soils, being attributable to an abundance of Pseudogymnoascus. The substrates reduced alpha and beta diversity metrics by 18–63%, altered community composition and elevated soil fungal DNA concentrations by 1–2 orders of magnitude after 5 years. In glycine-amended soil, OTCs decreased DNA concentrations by 57% and increased the relative abundance of the yeast Vishniacozyma by 45-fold. The relative abundance of the yeast Gelidatrema declined by 78% in chambered soil and increased by 1.9-fold in irrigated soil. Fungal DNA concentrations were also halved by irrigation in TSB-amended soils. In support of regional- and continental-scale studies across climatic gradients, the observations indicate that soil fungal alpha diversity in maritime Antarctica will increase as the region warms, but suggest that the accumulation of organic carbon and nitrogen compounds in fellfield soils arising from expanding plant populations are likely, in time, to attenuate the positive effects of warming on diversity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1050372
Number of pages15
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2022


  • Antarctica
  • climate warming
  • open top chambers (OTCs)
  • organic carbon
  • organic nitrogeon
  • soil fungal community diversity
  • yeasts


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