Cultivable bacteria in the supraglacial lake formed after a glacial lake outburst flood in northern Pakistan

Nikhat Ilahi, A. Allan Degen, Ali Bahadur, Abdul Haq, Wenyin Wang, Shichang Kang, Wasim Sajjad, Zhanhuan Shang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Recently, a supraglacial lake formed as a result of a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) in the Dook Pal Glacier. Lake debris and meltwater samples were collected from the supraglacial lake to determine bacterial diversity. Geochemical analyses of samples showed free amino acids (FAAs), anions, cations, and heavy metals. Comparable viable bacterial counts were observed in meltwater and debris samples. Using R2A media, a total of 52 bacterial isolates were identified: 40 from debris and 12 from meltwater. The relative abundance of Gram-positive (80.8%) bacteria was greater than Gram-negative (19.2%). Molecular identification of these isolates revealed that meltwater was dominated by Firmicutes (41.6%) and Proteobacteria (41.6%), while lake debris was dominated by Firmicutes (65.0%). The isolates belonged to 14 genera with the greatest relative abundance in Bacillus. Tolerance level of isolates to salts was high. Most of the Gram-positive bacteria were eurypsychrophiles, while most of the Gram-negative bacteria were stenopsychrophiles. Gram-negative bacteria displayed a higher minimum inhibitory concentration of selected heavy metals and antibiotics than Gram-positive. This first-ever study of culturable bacteria from a freshly formed supraglacial lake improves our understanding of the bacterial diversity and antibiotic resistance released from the glaciers as a result of GLOF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-325
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 May 2023


  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Bacterial diversity
  • Glacial lake outburst flood
  • Hindu Kush
  • Supraglacial lake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Microbiology


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