Abstract49 – University of Copenhagen

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Centre for Ice and Climate > Publications > Scientific papers > Abstracts > Abstract49

Diversity of Holocene life forms in fossil glacier ice

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., Vol. 96, p. 8017-8021, 1999 

E. Willerslev, A.J. Hansen, B. Christensen, P. Arctander
Department of Evolutionary Biology, Zoological Institute, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.
J.P. Steffensen
Departement of Geophysics, The Niels Bohr Institute of Astronomy, Physics and Geophysics, University of Copenhagen.

Studies of biotic remains of polar ice caps have been limited to morphological identification of plant pollen and spores. By using sensitive molecular techniques, we now demonstrate a much greater range of detectable organisms; from 2000- and 4000-year-old ice-core samples, we obtained and characterized 120 clones that represent at least 57 distinct taxa and reveal a diversity of fungi, plants, algae, and protists. The organisms derive from distant sources as well as from the local arctic environment. Our results suggest that additional taxa may soon be readily identified, providing a plank for future studies of deep ice cores and yielding valuable information about ancient communities and their change over time.