Microbial Adaptation in the Cryosphere

Environmental adaptation of microbial communities includes both population shifts and individual fundamental molecular changes such as alternative metabolisms and production of cold-specific enzymes that allow organisms to thrive in cryospheric environments. We are building our knowledge of metabolic adaptation strategies in cryoenvironments to understand mechanisms for cold adaptation including modifications to cellular membranes, pigment production, and specialized cold-induced proteins. We aim to determine ecosystem tolerance and adaptation potential to warming and identify keystone species that impact robustness of permafrost microbiomes. Understanding such molecular adaptation strategies will also enable us to utilize cold-adapted enzymes and cultured microbial species for sustainable industrial applications.