Soil bacteria and fungi at landscape scale

by Anders Priemé

Blæsedalen, Disko. Sampling in Dryas. Photo Anders Priemé

Field work under the clear blue Greenlandic sky is nothing less of fantastic. Walking to the field sites along the jagged coast of Disko Island, West Greenland, while icebergs float by and humpback whales surface among the waves, just add to the magic.

Blæsedalen, Disko. Cassiope heathland. Photo Anders Priemé

Then add that the strong winds kept the mosquitoes on the ground. How lucky can you be? However, my focus for the July 2013 field campaign on Disko Island was not the marine marvels but the landscapes in the uninhabited and beautiful Blæsedalen traversing the southern part of Disko Island. Here, I collected soil samples for analysis of DNA from the communities of soil bacteria and fungi in the dominant vegetation types typical for this part of Greenland; the lush lowlands dominated by Salix shrubs, the vast heathlands dominated by delicate Cassiope, and the patches of hardy Dryas making a living on dry windswept plateaus.

Blæsedalen, Disko. Sampling in Salix. Photo Anders Priemé

Not much is known about the distribution of soil bacteria and fungi at landscape level in the Arctic, so I look forward to processing my many samples in the CENPERM laboratories and to the many hours in front of the computer screen unveiling the secrets of bacteria and fungi in these beautiful landscapes of western Greenland.