How low can you go – activity of permafrost microorganisms at very low temperature

Niveau:Masters, Bachelor

Arctic microorganisms are subjected to low or very low temperatures. In the deep permafrost soil, bacteria are known to be active at -39 oC. In surface soils, arctic bacteria and fungi survive not only the low temperatures during the long arctic winterbut also the physiological stresses related to freezing-thawing cycles and changes in osmolarity.

The project aims to study the responses of bacteria and fungi in arctic soils to temperature changes near or below the freezing point, e.g.:

  • life at the edge: the lowest temperature for detectable microbial activity
  • the low temperature response of the microbial processes producing or consuming greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide)
  • the mechanisms used by microorganisms to cope with freezing
  • the mechanisms used by microorganisms to initiate or enhance activity upon thawing.

The work may involve transcriptomic analyses of pure cultures of bacteria and fungi as well as of complex microbial communities in permafrost soil. Measurements of greenhouse gas production and sequencing of microbial genomes may also be included in the work.

The projects will be carried out within Center for Permafrost, CENPERM, a Center of Excellence financed by the Danish National Research Foundation. You can find more information about CENPERM at

Keywords:Microbial physiology, Extreme biology, Transcriptomics, Permafrost, Low temperature biology
Vejleder(e): Anders Priemé