The first cultivation of the glacier ice alga Ancylonema alaskanum (Zygnematophyceae, Streptophyta): differences in morphology and photophysiology of field vs laboratory strain cells

Daniel Remias, Lenka Procházková

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Melting glacier surfaces are unique ecosystems for specialized microbes, frequently harbouring blooms of microalgae with pigments contributing to the darkening of ice surfaces, reducing albedo and enhancing melt rates. The main cause of this phenomenon is algae of the genus Ancylonema. Prior investigation depended on field-collected material because these algae resisted cultivation. To enhance research on how these algae dominate melting ice, we established a strain of Ancylonema alaskanum from an alpine glacier and exposed to temperatures around the freezing point at irradiations of ~10% of full sunlight. The morphology of the culture changed, with the cells becoming longer and turning green by losing their brownish pigmentation, indicating that these dark phenols are crucial for survival in the cryosphere. Photophysiological comparisons of strain and glacial material showed adaptation of the photosynthetic apparatus to prevailing conditions. This laboratorial strain opens possibilities for a wide range of comparative ‘omics’ research.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberjog.2023.22
Pages (from-to)1080-1084
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Issue number276
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2023


  • Melt - surface
  • microbiology
  • polar biology

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