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An increasing number of studies has demonstrated that microorganisms represent the most relevant biodiversity existing on the Earth. Microorganisms colonize all ecological niches and are essential for maintaining terrestrial ecosystems. The importance of studying microbial biodiversity has been recognized at the international level through numerous research programs aimed at investigating and conserving microbial germplasm, both in situ and ex situ. Although thousands of microbial species have been described, it has been calculated that less that 5% of them (estimated number of existing bacterial species = 500,000, estimated number of existing yeast and fungal species = 15,000,000) have been so far studied and described.

Unexplored environments (e.g. marine, tropical, glacial, etc.) represent ecological niches whose their microbial diversity is so far little explored. Particularly for glacial environments, although microorganisms occurring in permanently cold ecosystems (which represent one of the largest biospheres on the Earth) have long been studied exclusively for their ability to survive under such extreme conditions, more recent studies evidenced that such habitats (e.g. deep oceans, Arctic and Antarctic regions, mountain glaciers, etc.) can be colonized by both obligate and facultative psychrophilic microorganisms. In this sense, such ecosystems represent one of the last unexplored frontiers of ecology and psychrophilic microbial populations sharing such habitats constitute an important part of cold-adapted biodiversity and play an essential role as nutrient cyclers and organic matter mineralizers.

Accordingly, one of the most fascinating missions of the DBVPG is the isolation, identification and characterization of non-conventional yeasts (NCY) from:

  • tropical environments of Africa (Somalia) and South America (Brazil, Argentina);
  • glacial environments (e.g. Antarctica, Arctic regions, Himalayan region, Andes, Alps, etc.).

 

         

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