University Of Tasmania
154656 - Ancient marine sediment DNA reveals diatom transition.pdf (2.41 MB)

Ancient marine sediment DNA reveals diatom transition in Antarctica

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 15:27 authored by Linda ArmbrechtLinda Armbrecht, Weber, ME, Raymo, ME, Peck, VL, Williams, T, Warnock, J, Kato, Y, Hernandez-Almeida, I, Hoem, F, Reilly, F, Hemming, S, Bailey, I, Martos, YM, Gutjahr, M, Percuoco, V, Allen, C, Brachfeld, S, Cardillo, FG, Du, Z, Fauth, G, Fogwill, C, Garcia, M, Gluder, A, Guitard, A, Hwang, JH, Iizuka, M, Kenlee, B, O'Connell, S, Perez, LF, Ronge, TA, Seki, O, Tauxe, L, Tripathi, S, Zheng, X

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.


Publication title

Nature Communications



Article number









Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Nature Publishing Group

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

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

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Assessment and management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems; Biodiversity in Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments; Ecosystem adaptation to climate change