Welcome to IGNITERRA

The IGNITERRA mission focuses on examining the archaic microbes, that originate from the deep sub­surface, and are specifically adapted to life in extreme conditions.

Our central hypothesis maintains that Tramway Ridge microbes are archaic, originate from the deep-­sub-­surface, and are specifically adapted to life in extreme conditions (heat, prolonged darkness, and oligotrophy), the signatures of which can be observed in their genetics both at organism and community levels. We therefore proposed to undertake both a gene-centric and metagenome analysis, which will guide targeted cultivation efforts of the microbial communities from Tramway Ridge and other Antarctic/sub-­Antarctic geothermal sites to address the following questions:

  • Are the deep-rooted phylogenetic affiliations seen in the preliminary study a consistent pattern along the steep physicochemical gradients on Tramway Ridge and in other Antarctic/sub­-Antarctic thermal sites.
  • In Tramway Ridge’s CO2-­rich sub-­surface environment, is microbial growth limited by carbon and nitrogen, leading to the presence of alternative pathways in chemolithoautotrophic primary producers?
  • Given a fundamental knowledge of the community’s genetic capabilities through the analysis of its metagenome, can we optimise media design to culture the unique microbes of Tramway Ridge?
  • Are members of the Tramway Ridge soil microbial community endemic to this unique habitat?
  • Through analysing the Tramway Ridge metagenome and isolates, do we see evidence of a thermophilic lifestyle at genetic, organism, and community levels?