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Ancient marine sediment DNA reveals diatom transition in Antarctica


Armbrecht, L and Weber, ME and Raymo, ME and Peck, VL and Williams, T and Warnock, J and Kato, Y and Hernandez-Almeida, I and Hoem, F and Reilly, F and Hemming, S and Bailey, I and Martos, YM and Gutjahr, M and Percuoco, V and Allen, C and Brachfeld, S and Cardillo, FG and Du, Z and Fauth, G and Fogwill, C and Garcia, M and Gluder, A and Guitard, A and Hwang, JH and Iizuka, M and Kenlee, B and O'Connell, S and Perez, LF and Ronge, TA and Seki, O and Tauxe, L and Tripathi, S and Zheng, X, Ancient marine sediment DNA reveals diatom transition in Antarctica, Nature Communications, 13, (1) Article 5787. ISSN 2041-1723 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License. (

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41467-022-33494-4


Antarctica is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change on Earth and studying the past and present responses of this polar marine ecosystem to environmental change is a matter of urgency. Sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) analysis can provide such insights into past ecosystem-wide changes. Here we present authenticated (through extensive contamination control and sedaDNA damage analysis) metagenomic marine eukaryote sedaDNA from the Scotia Sea region acquired during IODP Expedition 382. We also provide a marine eukaryote sedaDNA record of ~1 Mio. years and diatom and chlorophyte sedaDNA dating back to ~540 ka (using taxonomic marker genes SSU, LSU, psbO). We find evidence of warm phases being associated with high relative diatom abundance, and a marked transition from diatoms comprising <10% of all eukaryotes prior to ~14.5 ka, to ~50% after this time, i.e., following Meltwater Pulse 1A, alongside a composition change from sea-ice to open-ocean species. Our study demonstrates that sedaDNA tools can be expanded to hundreds of thousands of years, opening the pathway to the study of ecosystem-wide marine shifts and paleo-productivity phases throughout multiple glacial-interglacial cycles.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:marine sedimentary ancient DNA, Antarctica, Scotia Sea, IODP Exp. 382, diatoms, climate change
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Palaeoecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Biodiversity in Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
UTAS Author:Armbrecht, L (Dr Linda Armbrecht)
ID Code:154656
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2022-12-19
Last Modified:2023-02-09

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