Quantification of basal ice microbial cell delivery to the glacier margin

We present the first assessment of microbial cell discharge from sediment-laden glacier basal ice. At Svínafellsjökull, a temperate valley glacier in Iceland, approximately 1017 cells a−1 are transferred through basal ice to the proglacial environment, and between 101 and 106 cells g−1 basal ice were cultured from our samples under laboratory conditions. We suggest that the delivery of viable cells and dead microbial matter to proglacial ecosystems could be playing a crucial role in soil formation and primary succession during deglaciation, but further quantification of cell transfer from a range of glacier contexts is required.

This discussion paper is under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).