Microbial ecology from the himalayan cryosphere perspective

Kusum Dhakar, Anita Pandey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cold-adapted microorganisms represent a large fraction of biomass on Earth because of the dominance of low-temperature environments. Extreme cold environments are mainly dependent on microbial activities because this climate restricts higher plants and animals. Himalaya is one of the most important cold environments on Earth as it shares climatic similarities with the polar regions. It includes a wide range of ecosystems, from temperate to extreme cold, distributed along the higher altitudes. These regions are characterized as stressful environments because of the heavy exposure to harmful rays, scarcity of nutrition, and freezing conditions. The microorganisms that colonize these regions are recognized as cold-tolerant (psychrotolerants) or/and cold-loving (psychrophiles) microorganisms. These microorganisms possess several structural and functional adaptations in order to perform normal life processes under the stressful low-temperature environments. Their biological activities maintain the nutrient flux in the environment and contribute to the global biogeochemical cycles. Limited culture-dependent and culture-independent studies have revealed their diversity in community structure and functional potential. Apart from the ecological importance, these microorganisms have been recognized as source of cold-active enzymes and novel bioactive compounds of industrial and biotechnological importance. Being an important part of the cryosphere, Himalaya needs to be explored at different dimensions related to the life of the inhabiting extremophiles. The present review discusses the distinct facts associated with microbial ecology from the Himalayan cryosphere perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Article number257
JournalMicroorganisms
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cold tolerant microorganisms
  • Cryosphere
  • Himalaya
  • Microbial communities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Virology

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