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Survival of antarctic soil metazoans at -80 degree C for six years.

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Cryo letters

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      A sample of the liverwort Cephaloziella varians was collected on 1 January 1999 at Rothera Point on the Wright Peninsula, Adelaide Island, western Antarctic Peninsula and was partially dried and then frozen at -80 degree C. The sample was rapidly defrosted to c. 10 degree C after six years and two months of storage at this temperature. Nematodes, tardigrades and a bdelloid rotifer present in the sample were found to have survived. Of the 159 nematodes recovered from the sample, 49 (31%) were alive: of the tardigrades and rotifers, two of 15 (13%) and one of 48 (2%) had survived, respectively. A Chi-square test showed that there was a significant association between nematode taxon and survival: a greater proportion of Coomansus gerlachei individuals were alive than of Rhyssocolpus paradoxus. A Chi-square test also showed that there was a significant association between phylum and survival: a significantly greater proportion of nematodes or tardigrades were alive than of bdelloid rotifers. We conclude that Antarctic soil metazoans are capable of surviving long-term exposure to low sub-zero temperatures and that there may be taxon-specific effects of freezing on survival.

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      [1 ] British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, Cambridge, UK.
      Cryo Letters
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